So, how do you know?
If there is one thread that binds the stories in this collection, it is the question of "How do you know?" "How do you know you're gay?" "How do you know who's safe to come out to?" "How do you know how to respond to hate?" "How do you know how to create change on campus?" These questions and a variety of others asked and answered in the following stories are the same questions many lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT), and questioning college students across the country ask.
Though the issues raised in these stories clearly speak to the experiences of LGBT students, they also speak to the questions asked by many student allies and college faculty, staff, and administrators: "How do you know how to be an ally?" "How do you know if your campus is safe?" "How do you know what to do when hate happens?" "How do you know what efforts will make a difference?"
While many excellent research studies and books discuss issues facing LGBT college students, when we began this project we found no major publications that allowed students simply to give voice to their experiences. Indeed, over the time that we solicited contributions to this collection, more than 500 students wrote us to say they wished they had a book like this. We hope Out & About Campus will fill part of this need.
There is no question that for many people, college is a time of intensive personal exploration. College students questioning their sexuality or gender identity and students coming out or transitioning gender identities face an added dimension in their identity exploration. Many students who question their sexuality or gender identity do so for the first time in college. But even for those who know going into college that they are LGB or T, those years may be the first time they have had the chance to meet others like them or search out meaningful resources.
In the last decade there has been an explosive growth of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning, and ally resources on college campuses. More than 800 LGBT college campus student groups exist across the nation; approximately five dozen colleges and universities (and the numbers are increasing rapidly) have o