Below are some tips that you can follow if you find yourself encountering discrimination or harassment on campus:
Learn who your allies are once you arrive on campus.
Many colleges have Pride Alliance groups for students on campus. Like any group on campus, these groups provide a safe haven where students can be themselves and feel more accepted. Most colleges also have a Student Diversity Office where students from diverse backgrounds can re-group and participate in programs and events that are targeted to their particular group. The campus safety office is one resource that can be helpful if problems do occur. Identifying these Ally groups on campus will not only help you to feel safe and more accepted but will also provide valuable resources if any problems should occur.
Understand that it’s more about the perpetrator than it is about you.
This country is comprised of many different ethnic, religious, and minority groups and each of these groups help to make our country stronger. People who try to infringe their values on others usually don't feel very strong in their own personal identity and convictions and they may fill their void by criticizing others who hold different values and beliefs than they do. Those who discriminate and hold prejudices against people who are different from them generally hold a limited world view and find comfort in criticizing others.
What can you do to best deal with the problem?
Don’t take it personally.
One of the first things you want to understand is that being prejudice is often a learned behavior and the people who make inappropriate comments don’t even comprehend that they’re doing or saying anything offensive. By educating others on the inappropriateness of their comments, you are doing them a great service by helping them to understand that discriminatory and offensive comments are not acceptable behaviors in the real world. You may simply say, “I feel offended when you make those kinds of comments or when you tell those kind of jokes”. Although this may be difficult at first, it’s important to confront these behaviors if you are to have any chance of eliminating them in the future. Of course, if safety is an issue you may want to report the incident and get help to deal with the problem.
Identify allies on campus.
If your personal attempts fail or if you are feeling threatened, you will want to enlist the help of a trusted ally such as a friend, teacher, or administrator that can help you address the problem of homophobia on campus. Identifying allies early in your college career can be of great help in brainstorming solutions should future problems occur. You may choose to address the problem immediately or choose to schedule a later time to discuss it; or depending on the circumstances, the best course of action may be to simply walk away.
Participate in Ally Training.
Many colleges offer Ally training to offer help for LGBTQ students acclimating to campus and to provide resources and training to other members of the campus community. By participating in these trainings you will learn what resources your college has available as well as identify who the allies are on campus.
Develop a strategy to deal with prejudice and discrimination on campus.
Taking the time to practice and prepare ways of responding to common types of homophobia will help empower you if you are confronted by an individual or group on campus. Learning to handle these types of problems on your own will help you build strength when dealing with compromising situations; but if the behavior is ongoing or goes beyond one or two comments, be sure to report the incident to the appropriate person that will be able to help you and others handle similar problems and hopefully educate students on the inappropriateness of their behavior.
Speaking out against homophobia can be a very liberating experience. Having these conversations will not only make you stronger but will also provide you with the tools to approach similar situations in the future.