“Putting this exhibit together has been such a learning experience for both our professional and student staffs. To read documents, look at pictures and see items that speak to the queer history here at Penn State and formation of the LGBTA Student Resource Center in 2001 was a stark reminder that those that came before us worked hard to forge the path to where we are today,” said Wilmoth.
The LGBTA Resource Room and the center’s beginnings
In 1990, then-Penn State President Joab Thomas appointed the Gay and Lesbian Task Force to address the addition of sexual orientation to the University’s non-discrimination policy. Five years of reports from the commission showing the need for a dedicated space, led to the establishment in 1996 of the LGBTA Student Resource Room in Grange Building.
In January of 2001 the LGBTA Student Resource Center opened in 101 Boucke Building, and in November of the same year Allison Subasic was appointed as the center’s first full-time director. The new center offered a comprehensive range of education, information and advocacy services for students, faculty, staff and alumni.
In 2014, the center added "Q" to its name to better reflect community representation, making the formal name the LGBTQA Student Resource Center. Subasic retired in 2017 after 16 years as leader, and Brian Patchcoski was named director.
Growing diversity and a name change: The Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity
In July 2019 the center changed its name to the Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity, to better reflect its service to the growing diversity within the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and related identities community — especially of those who might not find their identity within the LGBTQA acronym — and to maximize inclusivity. The name change came as a result of input from students, University and campus partners, as well as from benchmarking with peer institutions.
2020 brings a move, renovations – and a pandemic
In January 2020, the center relocated from its location in Boucke Building to a new home located on the lower level of the HUB-Robeson Center. Expanding its offerings for members of the Penn State community, the center increased its accessibility and inclusivity — even during the COVID-19 pandemic — while maintaining a respectful and safe environment that honors sexual and gender diversity, said Wilmoth. Designed through student feedback and guided by constituent conversations to foster a sense of belonging and community, the center added universal and inclusive design features.