Moorpark College proudly celebrated the month of June as LGBTQ+ Pride Month, a celebration of our LGBTQ+ students and the resilience of the LGBTQ+ community. Pride month isn’t just a celebration; it is a vital tradition that underscores the responsibility colleges hold to ensure inclusivity, acceptance, and support for their LGBTQ+ students.

LGBTQ+ college students continue to face significant challenges that can impede their academic and personal success. Research conducted by The Trevor Project found that almost half of LGBTQ+ youth seriously considered suicide in the past year, revealing a dire need to provide robust mental and emotional health resources for this vulnerable student population. However, mental health care access is merely the first step in ensuring equity in achievement for LGBTQ+ students.

In our 50-plus years of service, Moorpark College has built a legacy of success founded on a simple principle: when nurtured with the proper support and encouragement, every student has the potential to thrive. A student’s sense of belonging on campus is not only a moral imperative, but also a well-documented factor in fostering academic achievement.

Serving LGBTQ+ students is fundamental to The California Community Colleges’ mission to ensure equity in access, support, and success for all students. With anti-LGBTQ+ education policies on the rise nationwide, it is vital we remain steadfast in our commitment to increasing access to mental health resources and fostering a sense of belonging for our LGBTQ+ students.

While the majority of LGBTQ+ students have access to mental health services, many report significant barriers, with 33% not feeling comfortable requesting care, 29% encountering long waitlists, and 17% expressing privacy concerns.

Supporting the health and wellness of LGBTQ+ students requires colleges to prioritize increasing the accessibility and sensitivity of mental health services. When mental health professionals are equipped to address the unique, intersectional challenges faced by LGBTQ+ students, these services can reduce the risk of suicide by 84%.

To this end, The SafeZone Training Program was ​developed by our Student Health Center to support LGBTQ+ students and employees who wish to educate themselves on cultural sensitivity and advocacy for the LGBTQ+ community. Each semester, faculty, administrators, classified professionals, and students are invited learn about LGBTQ+ identities, examine prejudice and biases, and receive tools to support LGTBQ+ students and employees in their roles at the college. At the end of the training, participants are awarded a SafeZone emblem to display, which signifies to each of our LGBTQ+ students: “You’re safe here. You’re loved here.”

The Moorpark College Student Health Center is staffed by a dedicated and expertly trained team of psychologists, marriage and family therapists, and mental health professionals that provide students with access to care and resources five days a week, ensuring every student can seek refuge and support.

The community college mission is to ensure every individual with a desire to learn can succeed in their educational and professional goals. Research indicates that accomplishing this mission requires colleges to look beyond learning resources, as a student’s sense of belonging in college is a key indicator of their academic success, completion outcomes, and overall well-being.

Sixty-seven percent of LGBTQ+ students reported experiencing symptoms of anxiety, loneliness, or isolation on their college campus, necessitating colleges cultivate an inclusive campus culture that celebrates diversity and centers the importance of community.

Through funding provided by the state of California and the California Community Colleges, Moorpark College offers students a multitude of curricular and co-curricular opportunities to integrate LGBTQ+ history, culture and voices into their everyday life on campus. Our college proudly hosts LGBTQ+ speakers, film screenings, social gatherings, and informational events to educate our community and encourage empathy and respect for the LGBTQ+ community. The Moorpark College Spectrum Club, an active, student-lead LGBTQ+ organization, hosts a variety of events each semester, including this year’s “Together, We PRIDE” speaker series, featuring Edgar Euan of The Ventura County Diversity Collective. The Ventura County Community College District hosts a Lavender Graduation event each year as well, providing an opportunity for our community to honor and celebrate the accomplishments of LGBTQ+ students districtwide.

Opportunities like these educate our students about the rich diversity of the human experience, while also validating and empowering our LGBTQ+ students by promoting representation in their studies and community.

Pride celebrations are more than just an homage to the LGBTQ+ activism that has made events like Pride Month possible. Pride is a promise: a call for us all to support our LGBTQ+ friends, family, children, and community. Pride is about the progress we’ve made in fulfilling our nation’s pledge to guarantee equal rights for every individual, regardless of who they are or whom they love; and for educators, it’s our way of living up to our responsibility to our students and our community.

Moorpark College