Frequently Asked Questions

Some Common Questions about Using Our Services

Do I have to be lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender to use the Resource Center?

No.  Our services are available to anyone regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. 
While meeting the needs of LGBTQ individuals is a crucial part of what we do, we regularly are contacted by others who have an interest in or whose lives are impacted by issues related to sexual orientation and gender identity. 

People who are not LGBTQ may contact us for a variety of reasons, such as:

  • They are researching some aspect of LGBTQ identity or experience for a class project;
  • Someone in their lives has come out to them as LGBTQ and they would like support and assistance in responding to this situation;
  • They would like to learn more about LGBTQ identity for personal or professional reasons;
  • They are a service provider who is looking for resources for a client.

Others may contact us because they are unsure of or are questioning their identity and are seeking help answering their questions.  In these situations, we will listen, recommend resources, help individuals sort through their questions, and if needed refer them to other sources of assistance.

Do I have to be an NIU student to use the Resource Center?

No.  Because we are one of the few LGBTQ-focused resources available in Illinois outside the city of Chicago, many people who are not NIU students find their way to us.  We will attempt to assist anyone who contacts us with a need related to sexual orientation or gender identity, as time and resources allow.

As a unit within the NIU Division of Student Affairs & Enrollment Management, the primary focus of our programs and services are students at Northern Illinois University.  Beyond serving students, we particularly attempt to address the needs of NIU faculty, staff, and family members where possible.

Most campus events are open to all. Some programs or services we provide may be restricted to students or others affiliated with NIU.

We welcome your inquiries; if we cannot assist you, we will do our best to refer you to a more appropriate resource.

Are your services confidential?

Yes.  While many people may be comfortable being open about having an LGBTQ identity or about having an LGBTQ-related need or issue in their lives, we understand that others may fear or actually face negative consequences due to stigma or prejudice.  For this reason, we will not talk to anyone about your use of the Resource Center unless you give us permission to do so in order for us to assist you.

There is one critical exception to this guideline:  we must contact appropriate authorities if there is an imminent risk that you may cause harm to yourself or someone else.  In these situations, we will act responsibly to protect your safety as well as the safety of others.



LGBT Life for Students

Is there an active LGBT student organization

Yes.  Prism is NIU’s LGBTQ & Ally Coalition.  NIU has had an LGBT student group since 1970.  Prism has an office on campus and sponsors events throughout the year.  Their mission is to create a social outlet for LGBT students and to educate the campus on LGBT topics.  The group welcomes anyone who wants to participate.  Click here to join NIU Prism

Is there a campus office that provides services for and about LGBT people?

Yes.  The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Resource Center provides support services, educational programming, leadership opportunities, and advocacy for the LGBT community.  The Resource Center works to educate the campus community on LGBT issues.  Our services are open to anyone, including LGBT and questioning individuals themselves as well as their family members, friends, and allies. 

Are there other support services and resources?

Yes.  The LGBT Resource Center works together with many other campus offices and community groups to meet the needs of LGBT people.  There are LGBT-friendly campus ministries and local churches.  There are LGBT-supportive counseling services on campus.  There is an LGBT Studies Program for those who want to study LGBT topics in their classes.  The University Libraries has extensive collections of LGBT books.  We are happy to help you find the services you need. 

What activities are there for LGBT students and their friends?

Each year there are about 40-50 events for LGBT students, faculty, and staff.  The Resource Center, Prism, and partner organizations sponsor events throughout the year, such as our annual Rainbow Ice Cream Social in August.  LGBT History Month in October and LGBT Awareness Month in April offer speakers, performers, films, an annual variety show, receptions, panel discussions, and more.  Events throughout the year include movie nights, dances, bowling, karaoke, and more.  Visit our online calendar of events to see what’s happening currently!

What’s it like living on campus?

Each year, staff members in Housing & Dining receive training to educate them about the needs and concerns of LGBT students so that our residence halls are a welcoming environment.  In addition, the NIU Ally Program identifies supportive faculty and staff who display rainbow cards that identify them as allies.  As allies, they attend workshops on LGBT issues, and can be a source of information and support for anyone who has LGBT related questions or concerns. For more info click here.

Are NIU and DeKalb safe communities for LGBT people?

Both NIU and DeKalb have policies that prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and/or gender identity.  Beyond that, we actively work to educate the community about LGBT identity to create and support a welcoming climate.  The LGBT Resource Center can assist anyone who has experienced this type of discrimination or harassment.  Fortunately such incidents are uncommon, although NIU and DeKalb are no different from other communities, in that harassment can happen here just as anywhere else.  The important thing to know is that if an incident does happen, there are resources in place to provide help.


LGBT Life for Faculty and Staff

Is there a campus office that provides services for and about LGBT people?

Yes.  The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Resource Center provides support services, educational programming, leadership opportunities for students, and advocacy for the LGBT community.  The Resource Center works to educate the campus community on LGBT issues.  Our services are open to anyone, including LGBT and questioning individuals themselves as well as their family members, friends, and allies. 

Does NIU provide domestic partner benefits for employees?

Yes.  NIU extends recognition to any domestic partnership meeting eligibility criteria and offers certain benefits to domestic partners of NIU employees.  Benefits provided included family illness leave, bereavement leave, use of the Employee Assistance Program, use of University Libraries, and medical, dental, and vision benefits through the State of Illinois group insurance program.  Specific questions about domestic partner benefits policies should be directed to the Insurance and Employee Benefits Department.

Are there other support services and resources?

Yes.  The LGBT Resource Center works together with many other campus offices and community groups to meet the needs of LGBT people.  The Employee Assistance Program offers a variety of support, wellness and work-life services. There are LGBT-friendly campus ministries and local churches.  There are LGBT-supportive counselors available in the community.  There is an LGBT Studies Program for faculty members interested in LGBT-related teaching or scholarship.  The University Libraries have extensive collections of LGBT books.  We are happy to help you find the services you need.

What activities are there for LGBT faculty and staff?

Each year there are about 40-50 LGBT-related events on campus that are open to all.  The Resource Center, Prism, and partner organizations sponsor events throughout the year, such as our annual Rainbow Ice Cream Social in August.  LGBT History Month in October and LGBT Awareness Month in April offer speakers, performers, films, an annual variety show, receptions, panel discussions, and more.  Visit our online calendar of events to see what’s happening currently!

Are NIU and DeKalb safe communities for LGBT people?

Both NIU and DeKalb have policies that prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and/or gender identity.  Beyond that, we actively work to educate the community about LGBT identity to create and support a welcoming climate.  The LGBT Resource Center can assist anyone who has experienced this type of discrimination or harassment.  Fortunately such incidents are uncommon, although NIU and DeKalb are no different from other communities, in that harassment can happen here just as anywhere else.  The important thing to know is that if an incident does happen, there are resources in place to provide help.


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