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Love. Honor. Pride: A safe space for LGBTQ+ students

Zephyrus Fenton, a first-year psychology student, first started taking testosterone in 2019. Their mother always gave them the injections; they were too scared to do it themself — it is a needle, after all. Then 2022 rolled around, and it was time to begin college.

A new daily routine. A new home away from home. 

A new life.

How would they get their shots without their mom? 

“That was a really scary experience,” Fenton said, “because I was in a new place for the first time, and I'd never done this myself.”

Luckily, Fenton found other transgender students to teach them how to give themself the injections, and they’ve been doing it alone ever since. 

“I don't think I would have been able to do that without their help,” Fenton said. “I really appreciated that.”

Fenton may not have had that help if they had not been in their Learning Living Community (LLC) — Love. Honor. Pride (LHP). 

History of LHP

LHP is an LLC “dedicated to creating a gender inclusive space for LGBTQIA+ students and their allies during their residential experience at Miami,” according to the Residence Life page on gender-inclusive housing. Historically, the LLC has been housed in Stonebridge Hall on Western Campus. Next year, though, LHP will move to Dorsey Hall on East Quad.

This move didn’t come without its challenges.

As LHP has grown over time, the housing spaces have started to run out. Stonebridge also houses students in the Honors College Program, and rooms are limited. Last semester, on Dec. 5, the Monday of finals week, LHP community members received an email introducing what came to be known as the “no-returner” policy.

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“Due to a high demand of students wishing to return to the Love.Honor.Pride LLC last year and a need to increase space for incoming first-year LHP students, we will not be able to offer a returner option for LHP next year,” read the email from Sarah Meaney, associate director of residential academic initiatives.

The “no-returner” policy would mean students currently living in LHP could not reapply for the LLC and could not live there past their first year.

In the email, Meaney suggested upperclass students who wished to remain together could look into a Student-Created Community and offered resources for assistance with the process. 

Pushback to the “no-returner” policy

Sean Perry, a senior music education and violin performance double major, LHP resident and transgender man, was not happy with this decision. 

“Not allowing students to return to their safe space community during their upperclassmen years is simply not acceptable,” Perry wrote in a response to Meaney’s email. “If there is higher demand for placement in LHP, that demand should be met.”

Perry lived in Peabody and Tappan his first and second year, respectively. In both halls, he felt out of place. LHP, on the other hand, has been a safe space for him.

“By and large, the community on campus is not LGBT friendly,” Perry said. “A lot of the students here experience bullying, they get disrespected, both in name and pronoun choice from their professors. They experience issues with securing funding for their education, and having older students that live in close proximity can be very helpful in navigating those rocky waters.”

Fenton, who has only been here for one full semester, said Miami could do better in helping LGBTQ+ students on campus. 

“I'm not really impressed with Miami's treatment of the LGBT community, particularly because of how they went about treating the LHP, like the possibility of getting rid of half of us,” Fenton said. 

Both Perry and Fenton emphasized the importance of having a safe space on campus. And for both, that means having fellow LGBTQ+ upperclass students and returning LHP residents, in their living space. 

The community moves

After many conversations between residence life staff and a committee formed in LHP, a compromise was made — the LHP LLC will move to Dorsey Hall. 

Despite facing uncertainties about their future living situation, Fenton is glad the university listened to their concerns and apologized for the incident. 

“I do appreciate them listening to us because they could have just ignored us,” Fenton said. “And they did apologize because it was horrible timing — It was the Monday of exams.”

Meaney is grateful the students reached out in the first place.

“It was a little rocky getting there, but we're there,” Meaney said. “It was cool to get the student input. I usually don't get that much student input on community placement and how community structure works, but it was great and it's definitely a need, and I wanted to respond to students … They love their community, which is exactly what I want.”

The new LLC location will still have the same application policies. Incoming first-year students can still sign up for LHP, current LHP residents can still return, and any student of any year is still allowed to apply to live in the residence hall. 

Though Lee Asada, a sophomore architecture major and resident in LHP, will not be returning to the LLC next year, they appreciated having mentors in the LLC. 

“They’ll pass knowledge on to the younger students, but also just be like a goofy, older sibling; not bully the younger students, but have the jesting relationship between one another,” Asada said.

For Fenton, the community aspect has been the best part of living in Stonebridge.

“I feel like it's stereotypical to say [my favorite part is] just the people I've met,” Fenton said. “Sometimes there's problems because people are people and people have differences, but I feel like there's maybe less problems in LHP than some others.”

And as someone with a disability, Fenton also appreciates the intersectionality of the LLC.

“At least with the LGBT community, you're never going to have somebody question your existence,” Fenton said. “They're always more courteous towards other minority groups, and they try to give thought to everyone, and I feel like that's a quality that is unique to minorities.”

The future

While the future of LHP is set for now, the students hope change continues to be made. 

Some, like Perry, think the LLC should expand across campus, removing the chance of being an easy target for discrimination. 

Others, like Fenton, would prefer the LLC stay all-together to keep the community aspect. 

For Asada, they just hope LHP continues to grow and that Miami continues to support it. 

“We have a giant LLC, which just shows how important it is and how necessary it is to have that large community and family,” Asada said. “So maybe eventually, I guess dreaming is having an entire dorm dedicated to LHP.”