By Joe Wlos
Incoming leaders at the Stonewall Resource Center (SRC) have instituted significant changes this semester, proving that the SRC’s facility and programs are not set in stone. Grinnell College’s safe space for the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and Questioning community and their Allies, located in Younker Pit, has re-catalogued its library and started a new Queer Mentoring Program.
“We’re reforming what used to be Coming Out Group,” Alex Anderson ’15 said. Anderson is leading the creation of the Queer Mentoring Group, with fellow second year Giovanni Garcia and Robert Mulry ’13, manager of the SRC.
“We will have three leaders who will train the mentors,” Anderson said. “And then the mentors will have one-on-one sessions with whoever emails Coming Out Group and wants to talk to someone.”
Mentors will begin training next week, and soon the program will be fully up-and-running to counsel Grinnellians who are questioning their sexual identity.
“I hope that the [Queer Mentoring Group] accomplishes a more expansive focus than Coming Out Group did,” Garcia said. “It’s more welcoming to those who don’t want to consider themselves as coming out, but prefer to consider themselves as exploring themselves—exploring their sexuality, their sexual expression, gender identity or gender expression.”
In previous years, when students emailed Coming Out Group, they would receive a message containing the next meeting’s time and location. This helped preserve the group’s confidentiality and secrecy, making it a safe place for questioning individuals. However, the Queer Mentoring Program will provide even more safeguards to guarantee the welfare of its mentees.
“We decided to make the change to help confidentiality. When a mentee meets with a mentor, that’s the only person who knows the details—not the whole group,” Anderson said. “It is also easier to talk one-on-one with someone, instead of a whole group of people that you might not know.”
Anderson, Garcia and Mulry have asked all mentors to provide a brief biography describing their personal experiences. They will use this information to make the best mentor pairing possible, so that all students involved receive a positive experience. The Queer Mentoring Program may not provide the same level of camaraderie as its predecessor, but it will offer more intimacy and will allow students to explore other groups to find support.
“If mentees want to connect with others, . . . there’s other SRC groups that we would suggest joining,” Anderson said.
The Stonewall Resource Center’s library was also re-catalogued over the summer in order to make it more accessible to students looking for resources. Two new librarians will help maintain the books and keep them organized for easy use.
The SRC will be hosting and organizing Grinnell’s Coming Out Week during the first week of October. E-mail [cog] for more information on the Queer Mentoring Group and to request a mentor and [SRCenter] to request an application to be a mentor.