Last semester, Salt Lake Community College opened the Gender and Sexuality Student Resource Center (GSSRC) to provide support to female-identifying and LGBTQ+ SLCC students as they move through higher education.
Located at the South City Campus, the GSSRC offers a lounge where students are welcome to hang out or meet with staff about concerns, according to Leka Heimuli, a secretary in the GSSRC office.
Peter Moosman, director of the GSSRC, says the program has made a difference at SLCC since its doors opened by offering support to students who may not feel they have a place on campus.
“It’s pretty cool seeing students opening up and sharing their experiences with each other,” Moosman said. “I’ve seen many relationships grown from [students] being really shy to becoming good friends.”
While the center focuses on gender and sexuality issues, it is designed as a safe space for those groups as well as their allies. Heimuli says all students are welcome.
“This is a center where individuals can feel safe, find their communities, and build bonds,” he said.
The GSSRC also offers free resources, like 10 free paper copies a day.
SLCC student Michael Murphy says he’s found the center to be an inviting place on campus.
“It is a really nice space,” he said. “I feel peaceful. Many students are not aware of this center, [and] the center should get more awareness, so students are more involved.”
Heimuli speaks highly of Moosman, who was named director of the center shortly before its grand opening.
“He is an activist, [and] he is always trying to get [LGBTQ+] issues out to the community,” Heimuli said.
Moosman is currently working with the admissions office to have a section in the admissions form with a survey of sexual orientation, to reach out to more students in the LGBTQ+ community. Moosman also organizes the “Hug a gay Mormon” event, which usually takes place before and after The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ General Conference sessions.
The GSSRC is also working on other related changes at SLCC, like obtaining more lactation pods for nursing mothers on campus, where women can breastfeed and pump comfortably. One pod went up at the South City Campus earlier this year and Moosman hopes to open more in other locations.
The center also hosts PRISM meetings, which focus on promoting writing in the LGBTQ+ community. Additionally, the center hosts women empowerment meetings every Thursday, as well as Write It Out, a writing group in partnership with the Community Writing Center.
Heimuli says people can support the center’s mission by asking people their preferred pronoun, visiting the GSSRC or volunteering.