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At WKU, a Support Group Emerges to Help Sexual and Gender Minorities

Becca Schimmel

Western Kentucky University is hosting a support group this semester for LGBTQIA+ students.

LGBTQIAstands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, and Allies. The plus sign at the end of the phrase is meant to include anyone who doesn't feel covered by the other terms. 

Katie Knackmuhs, a WKU counselor who is helping lead the group, said the goal is to create a supportive environment for students to develop a deeper community and maximize their collegiate experience.

She said some LGBTQIA+ students who arrive on campus are struggling with a lack of acceptance back home.

“We’ve had a lot of people share experiences of being ex-communicated from families, or sometimes church was their biggest support network—that’s where all their friends were, that’s where their family was. They don’t feel like it’s safe, or the church has exiled them,” Knackmuhs said.

She said a frequent topic of conversation she has with students is that while their sexual and gender identities are very important, it’s not the totality of who they are as individuals.

“So even though you start coming out to others and start owning who you are, and you feel good about that and safe about that, people sometimes see that one side of you and completely reject all other parts of you—even though you are so much more than your romantic and sexual attraction.”

The support group will meet on Tuesdays, beginning Sept. 3, from 4:00-5:00 p.m. in room 408 in Potter Hall.  

The group is open to any and all students, regardless of gender or sexual identity.

Kevin is the News Director at WKU Public Radio. He has been with the station since 1999, and was previously the Assistant News Director, and also served as local host of Morning Edition.
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