Since the arrival of COVID-19 to Louisiana in early March, LGBT+ students from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette have been forced to remain at home with parents or relatives who may be less than accepting of them.
A student at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, who wished to withhold her actual name and will be referred to as Ty Atwood, is experiencing this first hand.
She is bisexual and now lives at home with parents who are religious and believe that her sexuality could be prayed away in church.
“When I found out that I was (LGBT) I figured it was a very bad idea to tell them that,” she said. “Then, my cousin accidentally outed me freshman year of highschool, and my mom took me out to an empty parking lot, checked me out at school and made me cry about it for like three hours.”
At UL Lafayette, Ty had more freedom to be herself away from her parents.
“My usual outlet for being myself would be hanging out with my friends or being in other places, but now that that’s gone I feel really confined, and my mood is not as great as it had been previously when I was more on my own,” she said.
Another student, who attends Texas A&M and wished to withhold her actual name and will be referred to as Madelyn Pierce, did not go home for the same reason, but she would have if her parents were accepting of her being transgender.
“They’re mourning their son, though it’s not like he died; he just doesn’t exist. But they’re shunning their new daughter,” she said.
If Pierce went home, she would also not be able to take the estrogen or testosterone blockers that she receives from her school, and she would eventually run out.
“So once I run out of those, that hormone balance would begin to shift again, and physically, I won’t lose anything that I’ve gained, but emotionally and just over all, things could get messy.”
A NBC news article on trans people being forced off of their medication in prisons spoke of the disastrous consequences this can have.
“Self-castration, suicide and waves of desperation are byproducts of the denial of sex hormones to inmates yearning to switch genders,” the article reads.
UL Lafayette’s GLASS (Giving Love, Acceptance, Safety, and Support), an LGBT+ organization on campus, has been helping students in whatever ways they can to find a safe space.
Tyler Nguyen, the president of GLASS, offered some advice as to who a student could turn to if they find themselves in an unwelcoming situation.
“My advice would be to try to stay at home with people who make you feel comfortable, your chosen family,” Nguyen said. “A chosen family is not an alternative to family, but kind of like people who are not necessarily related to you, but they can be. People who embrace you and make you feel comfortable, and that is kind of what GLASS is about.”
He also suggests finding other resources if a student does not have people to turn to.
“If you don’t have that resource, I’d say like look for groups online or just find communities that you can join, just to make yourself feel comfortable,” Nguyen said.