The University of Florida partnered with the Center for Gender, Sexualities and Women’s Research to create a new living-learning community known as Lavender. Lavender, the color itself, holds historical significance within the LGBTQ+ community’s resistance.
LLCs intend to foster unity among diverse groups of identities. At UF there are 16 LLCs.
Lavender serves as a gender-inclusive housing option for LGBTQ+ students and students studying politics and sexualities. This exciting step towards inclusivity took effect at the start of this past Summer B. Students that are part of this LLC are not assigned by sex. Lavender alleviates any worries of having a homophobic, transphobic or discriminatory roommate.
Currently, UF has an FAQ page that offers answers to questions that students may have as members of the LGBTQ+ community or as students that are looking for resources. This page provides advice and answers to many common questions along with directing students to additional resources such as the Counseling and Wellness Center. While this is a beneficial resource with good intentions, UF largely ignored concerns about the lack of accessibility in terms of housing and bathrooms, and students were merely encouraged to find someone to discuss their feelings with.
The Lavender LLC
UF is taking a stride toward inclusivity with the new gender-neutral LLC located within Springs Complex. Lavender offers a safe space for students of the LGBTQ+ community while also helping students understand the history and complexities of sexuality and identity. Students no longer have to worry about the possibility of coming home to a community that will ridicule them for who they are. Students will have easy access to the Gator Well West Campus Hub as well.
UF is also offering a linked course this Fall: IDS 2935, Be a Social Justice Activist, which counts toward the Quest 2 course requirement.
The main goal of Lavender is to create an inclusive and supportive community that will act as a safe space. Every student deserves to have a safe place to let down their guard at the end of the night.
While students are extremely appreciative of UF’s commitment to furthering issues of diversity and inclusion, many students do not prioritize LLCs when making their housing decisions. These communities often bring students that have similar interests, backgrounds and fields of study together. A student’s identity being bound to this type of community can lead to a strange dynamic and one that may seem ingenuine. While this LLC succeeds in creating more of a safe space, LGBTQ+ students could feel isolated and separated as this added sense of accessibility and belonging is only tied to a single “community.”
The Future of Diversity
This new LLC is one of the first steps toward a more welcoming and accepting future. Though the Lavender LLC does not leave all students free of worry, it provides more accessibility and opportunities for LGBTQ+ students than ever before. Gender-inclusive housing can allow a student to feel one less stressor when it comes to an already stressful college experience. This LLC is one step toward making each student feel safe and valued. It can only be hoped that the university will continue to work with and for these students to further advocate for them.