Regional
12:19 am
Tue April 1, 2014

NMSU Gender Center: Too Few Local Resources

NMSU'S Sexual and Gender Diversity Resource Center recently kicked off a week-long series of events to recognize the presence of gay, lesbian and transgender students.

"We have an increase of students…increase in the number of transgender students that we see," said Jessica Spohn.

Spohn is the center's program coordinator.

"Our center…the SGDRC Center…is typically just for students, faculty and staff," said Spohn.

After the GLBT Center closed in Las Cruces in the summer of 2013, more people called from the community who were not students.

"So its kind of trying to find a balance of people in the community…friends of people or just someone who's just moving here that's brand new," said Spohn.

Derek Beckford, an NMSU senior, says he noticed the increase too.

"We've seen a lot more traffic from students," said Beckford.

He came to college already out as gay to his family. He sees the increase in students as a sign the center is becoming more visible on campus.

"Students are more aware that there are students on campus who are GLBTQ and I think, like, that awareness creates more security on campus," said Beckford.

His involvement with the center even swayed his decision to pursue a career in public health when he graduates.

"What I tried to do this semester with my field experience was try to get more GLBTQ help issues out there," said Beckford.

A recent NMSU graduate who used to work at the center, Ryan Garcia, is now a prevention educator at Alianza of New Mexico.

"When I first got here, it was way more accepting than my little hometown of Aztec, New Mexico...but at the same time I could see that there was some work that needs to be done…Before, we might have had some issues with some of our events…but now these days everyone has been so supportive," said Garcia.

His work is focused on raising awareness about HIV risks and HIV testing in the area.

"There's so many things you can get out there, so condoms are free here on campus and they're always helpful to have," said Garcia.

Jessica Spohn tries to do what she can to help community members, answering as many calls as she and her staff can. She says a center for the general community may have gone away, but the need for it has not.

"They need a safe place to be on campus and we don't have an equivalent for the community, but people still need it. I think it's terrible that we don't have it," said Spohn.