The acronym LGBTQA refers to sexual orientations and gender identities defined as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, and their allies (traditionally heterosexual allies to the aforementioned groups). We acknowledge that this is not an exhaustive list of sexual or gender identities which we consider included in the Special Interest Group’s (SIG) charge. We welcome all individuals of all sexual and gender identities as SIG members.
For the LGBTQA-identified disability service providers, this SIG offers a much needed community, an opportunity to share challenges and ideas for change, and the chance to educate colleagues about LGBTQ-identified people and the connection that exists between the struggle of people who are LGBTQ-identified and that of those who have disabilities. This SIG, on an individual level, helps to foster more professionally and personally well-rounded AHEAD members, benefitting the larger AHEAD organization as a result.
Additionally, the SIG provides guidance to disability service providers working with students with disabilities who identify as LGBTQ. We understand and affirm the complex intersections of identifying as a person with a disability and as a member of the LGBTQ community. This is especially true during the traditional college years, a time when many students explore their many identities – including sexual orientation and gender identity – for the first time as an adult. We also acknowledge that there is a statistically significant number of students who identify as both having disabilities and being members of the LGBTQ community. We aim to provide a safe space for discussion of issues specific to these identity intersections, both for our members and for our students at our respective institutions.
We affirm the good work of AHEAD’s Standing Committee on Diversity and Inclusion in raising the consciousness of and continuing conversations around diverse identities. Just as the Racial and Ethnic Diversity and Disability (REDD) SIG informs a particular subsection of our diversity work as an organization, so does the LGBTQA SIG. We believe that ensuring that LGBTQ issues are included in diversity conversations is a focus of this SIG as it is of the Standing Committee on Diversity.
AHEAD prides itself in providing “quality services to meet the needs of persons with disabilities involved in all areas of higher education.” The LGBTQA SIG complements this stated purpose of AHEAD by helping members grow their competencies in areas of LGBTQ awareness, terminology, and utilization of resources. The LGBTQA SIG can assist AHEAD with providing quality training on the intersections of disability and sexual/gender identities to AHEAD’s members.