The University of Rhode Island opens a new center Wednesday for Gender and Sexuality. The campus has struggled in the past with incidents of aggression against gay students and faculty. Now, it is the first school to in the country to design and construct a center dedicated to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender programs.
The center will also provide programs for straight students to help them understand what their peers may be facing.
Graduating senior Jessica Brand says as a transgender woman, she welcomes the new resource.
“For me, the gender and sexuality building is a window of opportunity, and safe spaces for people that otherwise wouldn’t have them,” said Brand. “They’ll be able to express themselves without worry, and that’s something that every human deserves.”
Brand, who majored in French and finance, says the new center reflects a big change on the campus.
“In my time at the campus, I noticed a shift, it wasn’t necessarily the best, when I started,” said Brand. “I was worried about some things that people would do, there was often graffiti, but now it’s gotten really safe, it’s just been a dramatic turnaround.”
Brand will not be crossing the stage to receive her diploma this May. She’ll be in California undergoing gender reassignment surgery, which is covered by URI’s new student health insurance.
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