Nationwide statistics point out that between 17-21% of school college students in the USA determine as LGBTQ+.
At Utah Valley College, that will imply someplace round 7,000 college students are half
of that demographic. However regardless of these numbers, being LGBTQ+ may be an isolating,
Dr. Sheilagh Fox (she/they), a licensed psychologist and the brand new LGBTQ+ psychological well being
specialist in UVU’s Pupil Well being Companies workplace, says that’s one of many massive causes she’s right here.
“In Utah County, discovering group just isn’t simple,” she says. “Folks typically find yourself
feeling like they’re the one queer individual that they know, though that is most likely
not true, statistically talking. Provided that context, I undoubtedly need of us who
really feel like they’re alone to come back to remedy and discuss.”
Dr. Fox holds a PhD in scientific psychology they usually determine as queer. Whereas they
aren’t the one LGBTQ+ member of UVU’s Pupil Well being Companies staff, they’ve been
employed particularly to concentrate on serving college students from that group. They supply
each particular person and group remedy classes, together with LGBTQ+ group remedy with UVU therapist Dr. Ben Bailey, in addition to a gaggle centered on religion transitions with UVU therapist Dr. Nick Prime.
Dr. Fox’s place is new to UVU, however they are saying they’re grateful it exists now, particularly
as a result of private and historic experiences might have taught LGBTQ+ college students to be
cautious of therapists and well being care professionals generally.
“One factor I wish to do is use my place to determine ways in which we are able to work to grow to be
a safer place for queer and different marginalized of us,” Dr. Fox says. “Quite a lot of queer
of us do not feel secure going to their physician, going to a therapist, going wherever.
And there is a entire historical past of marginalization and medicalization and theorizing that
led to stigmatization of LGBTQ+ folks in broader society. I believe it is essential
for that to be owned in order that we are able to transfer ahead in creating an inclusive house.”
Most frequently, Dr. Fox says, the problems her purchasers are combating are associated to
or influence their relationships with different folks. She says crucial protecting
issue in opposition to melancholy is having shut interpersonal relationships. For LGBTQ+
folks, nevertheless, these relationships can grow to be extra fraught as a result of they don’t really feel
secure to be themselves.
“I really feel like therapists do have a fairly sturdy set of abilities and data and expertise
to assist folks work out, ‘Okay, what is going on mistaken in your skill to attach with
different folks?’” Dr. Fox says. “Or what marginalization are you experiencing that’s
disconnecting you from folks in your lives, and the way can we discover you relationships
the place that’s not taking place?”
Along with her scientific work, Dr. Fox says she feels a key a part of her position is
to be an activist and advocate, as a result of LGBTQ+ folks face systemic points that may’t
be resolved in particular person or group remedy classes.
“I consider remedy has the potential for use by establishments, universities included,
as a rug beneath which to brush misery ensuing from homophobic or transphobic cultures
and insurance policies,” Dr. Fox says. “They might get snug and say, ‘Oh, the therapists
will take care of it, and we don’t want to vary.’ So it feels essential to me to be
engaged in activism that helps to enhance the scenario, so folks ultimately aren’t
coming to remedy due to horrible issues which are taking place to them in these techniques.”
And whereas it may be tough for individuals who aren’t LGBTQ+ to know marginalized
experiences, Dr. Fox says the important thing to connection is humility: listening, believing,
and accepting duty when needed.
Dr. Sheilagh Fox (she/they), proper, stands with shut pal and colleague Dr. Michael
Azarani (they/them) at a Satisfaction occasion in Salt Lake Metropolis, Utah on June 6, 2021.
“Accountability is admittedly scary to lots of people who maintain dominant identities,”
they are saying. “There’s a lot concern of what it means to have a look at privilege, to have a look at
the hurt we might have triggered others. It does carry up discomfort. What folks do not
understand is that accountability within the context of social justice just isn’t punishment
— it’s an invite to restore relationship. It’s exhausting to confront the influence now we have
had on another person and to vary, however what lies on the opposite finish of accountability
is group, it’s friendship, it is love. And individuals are so afraid as a result of they don’t
For straight allies who’re looking for to study extra about what LGBTQ+ folks expertise,
Dr. Fox is fast to level out that there’s nobody common abstract — there’s an enormous
quantity of range throughout dimensions of sexual orientation, romantic orientation,
gender, and different methods of being on the planet. However what folks will discover, she says,
is that LGBTQ+ experiences are human experiences.
“There’s a lot to narrate to and connect with,” she says. “Simply be curious. Get to
know queer folks. Go to a queer bookstore and decide one thing off the shelf. Don’t
be afraid to have interaction with people who find themselves totally different from you.”