The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer (LGBTQ) Peer Mentoring Program empowers LGBTQ students to live more full, happy, and productive lives. Mentors aim to support mentees through many facets of LGBTQ identity development. This is accomplished through frank, informal, one-on-one conversations, wherein support and information are provided. Mentors serve as positive role models and provide resource information.
The hallmark of the LGBTQ Peer Mentoring Program is a trusting, confidential, one-on-one relationship between the mentee and mentor. This relationship provides a space for the mentee to explore many issues regarding sexual orientation or gender identity in a safe, non-judgmental, supportive, and empowering environment.
LGBTQ identity development is a lifelong process. Unlike many other marginalized and/or oppressed populations, most LGBTQ individuals are not raised in families or community environments that reflect their sexual/gender identities. Therefore, mentorship and friendships among “chosen families” of other LGBTQs are often critical to identity and community development.
LGBTQ identity development can begin at any point in one’s life. For many LGBTQ individuals, the “coming out process” evokes many emotions which may be challenging, confusing, and even frightening. It is also a time in one’s life that often is accompanied by feelings of isolation and loneliness. The mentoring relationship provides a safe place to explore these feelings.
As LGBTQ individuals meet life’s transitions and milestones, they are often faced with exploring how to integrate their LGBTQ identity into various new phases in life. Mentors can aid with this exploration. They help mentees challenge internalized negative messages and misinformation proliferated about LGBTQ people by peers, family, social institutions, and the mass media. Internalized negative and inaccurate messages can take a psychological toll. Mentors help by replacing myths and stereotypes with accurate information. Through this program, LGBTQ students are encouraged to develop positive LGBTQ identities.
Whitney Hagen, Ph.D.
Staff Psychologist, FAU Counseling and Psychological Services
Who are the mentees?
Any enrolled FAU student who would like support with LGBTQ-related concerns is welcome to apply.
Who are the mentors?
Mentors are FAU students who have worked through their own LGBTQ coming out process, and have had experience negotiating life as an LGBTQ individual. It is this personal understanding that makes mentors particularly well suited to help others
After applying and being accepted, mentors receive initial training in helping skills and issues of relevance to the LGBTQ community. They attend ongoing supervision/training meetings once a month, and are also able to consult with program coordinators on an as-needed basis in between meetings.
Mentors may provide guidance on the following issues:
- Confusion about sexual orientation or gender identity
- Acceptance of self as gay, lesbian, bisexual, queer, transgender, or genderqueer
- Coming out to friends and family
- Integration of multiple identities (e.g., LGBTQ and ethnic/racial identities)
- Professional and academic concerns as related to being LGBTQ
- How to meet potential dates
- Finding eligible partners
- How to ask someone for a date
- Finding positive campus and community resources
- Written materials (e.g. books, magazines, directories, etc.)
- Online resources
- Activities (e.g. meetings, potlucks, sports, dinners, dances, plays, movies, etc.)
- Places (e.g. community centers, coffee shops, dance clubs, bookstores, libraries, etc.)
The mentor-mentee relationship
When mentees apply to the program they are matched with a mentor by the program coordinators. These matches are typically based on mentees’ identified needs as well as shared aspects of identity (e.g. gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, spirituality etc). Once a mentee is paired with a mentor, an introductory meeting is scheduled between them and one of the program coordinators. At this meeting program rules are reviewed, contact information is exchanged, and the mentor/mentee pair will begin to decide the details of their ongoing contact.
It is expected that mentors and mentees have ongoing weekly contact (in-person, phone, text, email etc.), with at least one hour-long face to face contact per month.