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Tuesday, March 22, 2016

A Seat at the Table: Offering Inclusion to Ignored Intersections

After transferring to Chico State from a religious university that was extremely unaccepting of my queer identity, I was so excited to finally find a community that accepted me holistically. However, I quickly found out that many queer spaces weren’t so ready to be inclusive towards people of faith. When I was in religious circles, my sexual orientation was seen as invalidation of my religious identity and, in extreme cases, caused me to not be welcomed back to a particular group or organization. In queer spaces, my religious identity was seen a barrier to fully participate in that community.

In activist communities, many of us find solace and sense of community that we have been missing our entire lives. But when we have intersections of our identity that are often seen as conflicting or in tension, it can be difficult to find a sense of total acceptance. As activists, full accessibility of our spaces and events should be of the utmost importance. People of faith, folks in recovery/sobriety, and teenagers are just a few demographics that have often been left out of the conversation when forming safe spaces surrounding feminism and LGBTQ+ issues. Negotiating these identities is not always easy, but when we as are intentional about creating safe spaces for all people, we become a better community because of it.

Thankfully for those of us living in Chico, we have so many wonderful community organizations that are welcoming and affirming to these (and many other) intersections. Below is a list of groups in Chico that are safe and accepting spaces of LGBTQ+ people who may have other identifiers that have previously inhibited them from seeking support and community. And, of course, the AS Gender and Sexuality Equity Center is, and always will be, a safe space for folks from all walks of life.

Support for minors:

Stonewall Alliance Youth (SAY) Teens

The teens group is a non-threatening, non-discriminatory, and safe outlet for teens (ages 14-17) to talk about issues surrounding sexuality. They are inclusive to all youth and meet every Thursday from 3:30-5:00pm at the Stonewall Alliance Center. Contact Conner at for more information.

Support for queer folks in recovery:

Online community that is a safe space for queer and/or trans folks thinking about sobriety, struggling with sobriety, or otherwise looking for comfort, community, and resources.

Affirming spiritual congregations in Chico:

Trinity United Methodist Church  
Methodist Church
285 E 5th St, Chico, CA 95928

Faith Lutheran Church
667 E 1st Ave, Chico, CA 95926

New Visions United Church of Christ
1600 Mangrove Ave Suite 175
(530) 342-4913

Congregation Beth Israel Synagogue
1336 Hemlock St, Chico, CA 95928
(530) 342-6146

By: Margaret van der Bie

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Placing Stigma Where It Belongs: Into the Conversation

If you had a broken leg, you wouldn’t refrain from going to the doctor because someone might have it worse than you. You wouldn’t ignore your persistent physical cold symptoms, so why would you ignore your mental health? Here’s the problem: you don’t want anyone to think there is something wrong with you, the burden of the stigma associated with mental health weighs heavy on your shoulders. This stigma keeps us busy worrying what others will think of us, instead of worrying about taking care of ourselves. And just like our physical health, our mental well being affects everyone, from every social class, gender, sexual orientation, etc.
As a college student here at CSU Chico, I hear so many of my peers talk about their struggles with managing stress, anxiety, depression, and prioritizing their self-care. One might wonder how we can create a social change, to promote this notion that it is okay to not be okay. Here is what we can to to create this change: we need to normalize the conversation regarding mental health, perpetuate the notion that mental health struggles affect everyone and look different to everyone. Creating a wave of change in which people can openly express their feelings, their struggles, and their self-worth is extremely important to one’s well being. We need to address the fact that stigma keeps us from talking about mental health and seeking help for it, and place stigma where it belongs, into the conversation. 

Listed below are some of the organizations/offices on our campus that you can utilize to actively pursue a healthy mental well-being:

633 Brice Ave., Chico, CA 

Safe Place
633 Brice Ave., Chico, CA

Counseling and Wellness Center
Student Services Center 430

Student Health Center
At the intersection of Legion Ave. and Warner St.

AS Gender and Sexuality Equity Center
Bell Memorial Union 004