Gender Identity and Queer Support at Otago Law

Eight years before I was born, homosexuality was illegal. By the time I was 18, Parliament allowed same sex couples to marry. In less than 30 years there has been a massive change in the representation of sexuality in the media, popular culture, and wider society. However, despite this change there remains a prejudice and misunderstanding about queer lifestyles.

 

It is still difficult for many people to understand the feelings they may be having. Many are often embarrassed for having these feelings at all. If you are feeling unsure about your sexuality, even slightly, the best thing you can do is talk about it. Below is a list of some of the assistance available on campus.

OUSA runs a Queer Support programme, led by full time staff member Hahna Briggs, at the Student Support Centre on Ethel Benjamin Place. Under Queer Support’s umbrella is peer support, where you can be confidentiality paired up with like-minded and trained buddy. OUSA also runs an advocacy programme, staffed with advocates who can assist if you are experiencing discrimination or are having a general rough time with uni life. These fully trained advocates can assist with all issues, and can also help with changes you might wish to make to the University’s or an outside group’s policy to make it more inclusive. Contacting one of Queer Support’s services is easy – either visit their office behind the Clubs and Socs building, or send an email to q.support@ousa.org.nz.

Additionally, UniQ is a fully student run group who have a more social focus, providing queer friendly spaces and regular social functions. You can contact UniQ on their Facebook page.

Someone a bit closer to home who can assist is our own Marcelo Rodriguez Ferrere, who is part of the Queer Friendly Staff Network. In plain terms this means that Marcelo is available for anyone to talk to about any queer related issue (or any issue for that matter). Marcelo is not the only staff member in this network – you can check the OUSA Queer Support Website to see which other University staff members are in the network, and which departments they are from.

Sometimes it can be easy to forget that SOULS is about more than just Wine and Cheese and lost property. As your Education and Welfare Representative, I am available to help with any welfare concerns. Any concerns you take to me or anyone else on the Executive will be held in the strictest confidence.

Further to all of this, there are vast amounts of online resources available. One of the more recent and progressive publications out there can be found at www.takatapui.com.

It’s a big, changing, and challenging world out there but most of all it is exciting and there is always someone to talk to. Whether that be your mates, a lecturer or someone from Queer Support, it is super important to let someone know how you are going.

 

Written by Sean Gamble

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