In the heart of the University of Colorado Boulder’s campus is a brightly colored office where students can hangout with friends, meet with staff to get advice, attend workshops, but mostly the office is a place where they can be themselves.
“It’s a place where they can be who they really are,” said Morgan Seamont, director of the Pride Office. “It’s a place where they can come and relax. It’s really heart warming. “
CU Boulder’s Pride Office was born in March 2020 out of what was once the Gender and Sexuality Center, which later merged to form one office with the Women’s Resource Center and the Multicultural Center, Seamont said.
“We decided we wanted to breakout the LGBT office again, so we could directly serve students in a more visible way,” Seamont said.
The Pride Office, which is located in room 320 inside the Center for Community Dining Center, has a lobby for students to hangout with friends, offers workshops such as SafeZone skills training designed to help create an inclusive learning and work environment for people of diverse gender. identities and sexual orientations and hosts events and programs such as the annual Pride Picnic held at the start of every school year to help students make connections and learn about LGBTQ + clubs and organizations on campus.
When the Pride Office opened, Seamont said he worked to rebuild relationships with students that were impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. To do that, the office sent out monthly care packages, which included items such as sweatshirts or bags of candy along with LGBTQ books and information about resources available on campus.
“We spent a lot of time getting to re-know our students and our student population on campus and making sure that they knew we were there for them as an office, and that we were there to support them.”
The office opened in-person last fall and served 1,315 students last school year. During that time, it had 500 viewings of its TRANSforming Gender virtual conference and hosted 18 SafeZone skills trainings in the fall and 23 in the spring.
Seamont said the office didn’t know what to expect after returning from remote learning and was pleased with the level of participation it had.
“I think it’s a great starting place and something that we can build on,” he said.
Alex Dutro-Maeda, assistant director of the Pride Office, said the office is in the middle of planning a virtual SafeZone skills training that people will be able to access any time they want.
“We’re going to make it more accessible for folks whose schedules are not allowing them to get to the training or have faculty offer it as part of their classes for extra credit,” she said. “That is one thing that we’re doing to try to increase some of the educational initiatives that are going on.”
The Pride Office also helps students make preferred name or pronoun changes on the campus’ computer system, locate gender inclusive housing on campus, learn about LGBTQ scholarships and connect them with medical services for treatments such as gender affirming hormone therapy.
“We got student health insurance to cover transgender care,” Seamont said. “It’s an incredible thing for our students to be able to access it through campus care or their private health insurance.”
This year, the Pride Office is starting an LGBTQ + mentorship program. More information will be available this fall on the office’s website at colorado.edu/cisc/pride-office and on its Instagram page at CU Boulder Pride Office.
Seamont and Dutro-Maeda said the best part of the Pride Office – for them – is the work they get to do with students.
“For me that is the best part of my job,” Seamont said. “I identify as transgender and have a lot of students come in and talk with me. It’s those conversations – that’s why I choose to do this work. “