Frequently Asked Questions
Is it OK to be ‘out’ at Carleton?
Yes!! As C.J. Griffiths '06 put it, “I was unsure at the start, but I’m finding that it’s really easy to be gay here.”
How supportive is the Carleton environment, socially?
All Carleton students, regardless of sexuality, draw support from their social groups and many students say that their friendships are some of the most valuable parts of their experience at Carleton. In terms of LGBT-specific social groups, Shade Paul said that “There is . . . a social group that identifies and is cohesive based on their sexuality, but there are lots of other people with alternative sexualities and genders that aren’t necessarily a part of that social group but have done other networking or are a part of other communities and go there for support if they need.” At Carleton you are allowed to explore who and what you are, and the atmosphere of Carleton as a residential college helps build these social networks. As Mac Henry '04 sums it up, “there’s a strong sense of ...having a lot in common with all the other people here. We all, in some sense, chose to be here.” With this common bond, Carleton students consider a diversity of opinion and experience as a valuable asset to academic and social environments.
Is the administration and faculty supportive of LGBT students?
Carleton has worked hard to institutionalize support for LGBT students as an integrated part of its support for all students. Based on personal experience, Mac Henry said that, “if you’re queer at Carleton you’re on the side of the angels. The administration is going to take care of you, the rules take care of you, and there’s a huge network of people and procedures that kick into place if you have a hard time.” The deans, professors, and administration are available for advising students and dealing with problems as they come up.
In terms of supporting LGBT movements, the administration is also supportive, as it is for any organized student movement. There are tools in place to help students bring up relevant issues for both personal consideration and, when desired, public discussion.
What about formal student networks/support groups for LGBT students?
There are several student-run support groups. Carleton In And Out is a bi-weekly discussion group for the LGBT community and those who are questioning their sexual identity. There are no membership requirements. CIAO is a safe, confidential space and open social atmosphere for people both in and out of the closet. The Gender Discussion group is another a safe space for students of all genders to discuss trans/gender issues and receive support. Sexuality and Gender Activism (SAGA) is a more activism-oriented group that focuses on issues of gender and sexuality at Carleton and beyond.
Can I choose my roommate my freshman year?
For your freshman year you are placed in a same-sex room with another student or other students. Most students find the experience of living with a freshman year roommate is a positive one, providing opportunity for growth and establishing a social network on the floor. Beginning your sophomore year you can choose your roommate(s) and where you live. Choices include dorm rooms, in which there are some coed arrangements, or in campus houses, such as the Queers and Allies House or Women’s Awareness House, among other multicultural and interest housing.
For transgender students who have questions about housing placement during their first year, we encourage you to contact the Office of Residential Life - they have staff who are qualified, and can help address any concerns you might have.
How can I get involved with women’s issues at Carleton?
There are lots of ways. You can take a class in the Women’s and Gender Studies department. Or, you can join the Collective for Women’s Issues, Carls for Choice, Coalition of Women of Color, Sexuality and Gender Activism, or any other student organization that works with women’s issues. If none of those groups appeal to you, you can start your own through the CSA. Also, Women’s Awareness House sponsors many social and educational events you can take part in. Stop by the Gender & Sexuality Center to get on the mailing lists.
Do I have to be a woman to be involved in women’s issues at Carleton?
Absolutely not! Most groups and events centered around women’s issues welcome men. Feminism is not just about women; it’s about getting rid of gender discrimination. For the few things that are woman only (check-in during Collective for Women’s Issues meetings, living in Women’s Awareness House), anyone who identifies as a woman is welcome.
A lot of these resources seem pro-choice. Do I have to be pro-choice to be involved with women’s issues at Carleton?
No, you do not. It is true that many people involved in women’s issues on campus tend to be pro-choice. However, it is not necessary that you be pro-choice to participate in any group or event (with the likely exception of Carls for Choice). Carleton promotes a free and open dialogue on a woman’s right to choose.
I still have questions! Who can I confidentially ask about LGBT life at Carleton?
Any member of the Gender and Sexuality Center staff is more than willing to answer any questions you may have about LGBT-specific issues, or life in general at Carleton. Contact information is found on the staff page.