EAST LANSING, Mich. (Michigan News Source) – A Michigan State website for “The Gender and Sexuality Campus Center” has announced free money in the form of grants to LGBTQIA2S+ students. For those who are not acronym savvy, the letters stand for “lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and/or gender expansive, queer and/or questioning, intersex, asexual and two-spirit.” The money would be coming from what MSU calls an “Unconditional Love Fund.”
The Unconditional Love Fund was created to “provide LGBTQIA2S+ Michigan State University students with flexible assistance in a timely manner to address extraordinary and unexpected financial hardships associated with their sexual and/or gender identity. Funds are available to students who apply to The Gender and Sexuality Campus Center who are unable to meet immediate, essential expenses due to temporary hardship related to unforeseen or emergency situations. This funding does not need to be repaid. Financial awards are made available to assist students with expenses that support their health, wellness, and safety.”
Students are able to apply once per semester and a maximum of twice per academic year with a request up to $500.00 per application. The online application asks for the student’s pronouns, the date the funds are needed by and says “Please provide a brief description of your funding request, including how your financial need relates to your gender or sexual identity.” Documentation is needed to provide proof of the claim/need and is requested in the form of bills, receipts, invoices, etc.
Supporters of the work done by the LGBT Resource Center can donate to other funds in addition to the Unconditional Love Fund to support students in crisis. These funds include the Lesbian, Bisexual, Gay, and Transgendered (LBGT) Resource Center Endowment Fund; the Wilensky-Ritzenheim LBGT Community Enrichment Endowment; and the Queering Racial Justice Summit Fund.
Stephen Wilensky and Mark Ritzenhein, who passed away in 2013, created the Wilensky-Ritzenheim LBGT Community Enrichment Endowment in 2012 and have donated about 2,000 gay-themed books and memorabilia to MSU, in addition to endowments for the MSU Libraries and Museum. MSU reports that their gifts were to MSU and the community and the “wider cause of knowledge, understanding and tolerance for all humanity.”
The LGBT Resource Center also discusses a “Trans Inclusion Project” on their website “to create a more inclusive campus of people of all genders. The Trans Inclusion Project will create opportunities for affirming and celebrating trans identity.” Their hope is to provide necessary trans-affirming resources and to provide education and engagement opportunities for the entire campus community regarding trans identity.
Their project will fund two major outreach and engagement events: Transgender Day of Remembrance and Transgender Day of Visibility. In addition, funding will also be used to provide trans-affirming resources including garments related to transitioning and increasing the publications on trans identity including their “Understanding Pronouns” pocket guide. The center is a student-centered campus resource that provides “intersectional educational and social programming and collaborate with student leaders and campus partners to build community and increase a sense of belonging.”