Volume 96, Issue 13
Thursday September 19, 2002

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Queer support line aims to help student body

By Kelly Marcella
Gazette Staff

A new initiative by the University Students' Council will offer support for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered students.

According to Nicole Nelson, VP-campus issues for the University Students' Council, an unofficial Board of Directors meeting will be held today in order to determine if there is a location available for a support telephone line called Queerline.

"The end goal is for a general support line for all students," Nelson said, adding the initial push for the Queerline will allow for a smaller focus group until the help line becomes established.

Statistically, the choice for Queerline was made because it intends to serve one of the highest need groups on campus, Nelson said, noting the unique difficulties and problems faced by the gay and transgendered community.

The focus group is at a higher risk for depression, suicide and other problems, she said, adding this was a determining factor in choosing to launch Queerline.

Nelson said she was hoping to raise $1,000 for training and advertising, as well as secure a spot for the support line in the University Community Centre to be shared by Queer Western Ontario, a USC club. She also said she would be canvassing the community for donations.

"We do have a gay, lesbian, transgendered and bisexual support program in place," said Kathy Dance, a psychologist at Western's Student Development Centre and supervisor of the peer counseling program.

Dance said the services provided by the Student Development Centre are provided during office hours only. Students can call the SDC for counselling, as well as arrange appointments with counsellors, Dance said, adding the SDC only has one counsellor who works one day a week.

According to Dance, additional support for students can only be positive, noting the SDC's counsellor is always booked.

"Response from QWO has been great. I'm really trying to combine my goals with theirs," Nelson said, noting overall response has been very supportive.

"At the moment, most of the phone calls we receive at the centre are from youth," said Brad Lister, secretary of the Board for the Homophile Association of London Ontario, adding he thought any new service available to youth can only be beneficial.

"The USC has done amazing things for us this past year, and Nicole Nelson is doing an amazing job this year," said Jen Leppard, co-president of QWO, adding she could not comment on specific initiatives as they were still in the development stages.

"It's very experimental," Nelson said, adding she hoped the Queerline would develop into a joint effort between QWO and the USC.

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2002 THE GAZETTE