Out On Campus: Navigating College and Identity

Starting university is daunting for LGBT students who face unique obstacles, like discrimination and mental health problems. Harry Wyman | The Signal

Navigating the twists and turns of a college campus is challenging when students are also facing questions about their identity. 

When starting university, LGBT+ students often look to build new friendships, find a mentor and better understand themselves — all while worrying about next week’s philosophy test and likely experiencing discrimination. 

A 2017 study by the RAND Corporation stated that “. . .compared to straight students, sexual and gender minority students had higher rates of psychological distress… were more likely to report academic impairment related to mental health problems…and reported higher overall levels of stress over the past month.”

LGBT+ students tend to face unique obstacles when starting college, but Georgia State is rich with opportunities for LGBT+ people to develop their social lives, careers and personal identities. 

Organizations on Campus

Georgia State University is home to the Alliance for Sexual and Gender Diversity, the oldest queer-straight alliance in Georgia. With over 700 past and current members, the group has an active, lively presence on campus. The organization’s accepting energy makes it a great place for new students and upperclassmen alike to find their footing and meet other LGBT+ students.

The Alliance celebrates events year-round, including drag shows, Halloween costume parties and discussions on diversity. 

“The Alliance is an organization comprised of individuals with many a background, representing a vast array of cultures, identifying with identities across the sexual and gender spectrum, with a common purpose: to be loud and to be proud,” the organization’s official Panther Involvement webpage states.

Joining an organization can help LGBT+ students feel like they’re a part of a community and gives them the opportunity to befriend those who share similar experiences and concerns.

Finding Your Way Around Campus

Georgia State offers nine gender-neutral restrooms on campus.


Student Recreation Center – Ground Floor (Family changing and restroom) 101 Piedmont Avenue, Atlanta GA Ground Floor (Family changing and restroom) Near Entrance to Aquatic Center
Student Center West 55 Gilmer St. SE, Atlanta, GA 1st Floor
Sports Arena- Room 105A 125 Decatur Street, Atlanta GA Room 105A
School of Social Work 55 Park Place, Atlanta GA 5th floor, located in the School of Social Work. It is across from office 557.
Rialto – Basement Lobby 80 Forsyth Street, Atlanta GA Basement Lobby – Accessible to Backstage Staff/Guests
Library North Coffee Shop 100 Decatur Street, Atlanta GA Library North Coffee Shop
College of Law School – 1st Floor 85 Park Place, Atlanta GA 1st Floor
College of Law – 3rd Floor 85 Park Place, Atlanta GA 3rd Floor
Citizen Trust Building – 6th Floor 75 Piedmont Ave, Atlanta GA 6th Floor
Citizen Trust Building – 2nd Floor (Counseling & Testing Center) 75 Piedmont Ave, Atlanta GA 2nd Floor (Counseling & Testing Center) 


The Gender and Sexuality Resource Center, an extension of the multicultural center, offers “services, resources and intentional support for students identifying as or connecting to LGBTQIQA and varying gender identities,” according to the center’s webpage.

The Gender and Sexuality Resource Center is located on the second floor of the Student Center. Students can enter through the Multicultural Center’s main lobby, Suite 206. The GSRC provides workshops, mentoring sessions, and resources for queer students and their allies.

LGBT+ Online Resources 

Students can use the university’s preferred name feature to change their name in class rosters, iCollege, the campus directory and other university systems. The changes do not apply on other documents such as transcripts or in PAWS.

Students can change their preferred name online in PAWS before 5 p.m. on the last day of the drop add period for the semester. 

Finding Inclusive Housing

In Fall 2015, Georgia State implemented gender-neutral housing. Students can check a box on their housing form for the university to room with other students who check the gender-neutral housing box, regardless of gender identity. 

If students feel uncomfortable with their housing situation or live in university housing, they should notify residence hall staff. 

LGBT+ students sometimes face housing discrimination and other unique hurdles when seeking off-campus housing. The 2015 U.S.Transgender Survey found that 23% of respondents experienced housing discrimination because they identified as transgender. 

For homeless transgender Georgia residents in need of off-campus housing, the Trans Housing Atlanta Program offers resources and support. 

Celebrating Pride On and Off-Campus 

Students’ celebration and acceptance of diversity do not end on campus, and it’s worth exploring the experiences Atlanta has to offer.

Queer journalist Samantha Allen dubbed Atlanta “the best city in the country for the LGBTQ community,” according to an article in Atlanta Magazine

The City of Atlanta’s LGBTQ Affairs website states, “The LGBTQ capital of the South, we are proud that a diverse and thriving LGBTQ community chooses to call Atlanta home. We work hard to best serve all LGBTQ individuals who live, work, and play in Atlanta.”

Atlanta Pride

Every year, tens of thousands of LGBT+ people and their allies attend Atlanta Pride, a weekend-long festival in Piedmont Park in early October. 

The event features live music from famous musicians like Ke$ha and queer artists, hundreds of vendors and multiple vibrant parades.

The festival is one of the oldest and largest globally, and attendees recently ranked it the ninth-best pride festival in the country.

Southern Fried Queer Pride

Southern Fried Queer Pride is an Atlanta organization centered around empowering Southern Black queer communities through the arts. The organization holds meetings every 3rd Sunday of the month, and they welcome anyone to attend.

The organization throws the Southern Fried Queer Pride Festival every June, which includes music, dance parties, workshops, an artist market, and more events. The 2021 Southern Fried Queer Pride Festival takes place from June 24 to June 27. 

Though students may face discrimination during college, the university offers LGBT+ students opportunities to explore their identity and involve themselves in the community in novel ways.

With organizations like the Alliance for Sexual and Gender Diversity on-campus and organizations like Atlanta Pride off-campus, Georgia State offers a multitude of opportunities for LGBT+ students to make themselves at home, develop their careers, and embrace their identities.