Virtual support group is a platform for LGBTQIA+ students to share the community’s unique experiences. 

The Wits Careers Counselling and Development Unit (CCDU) has established a new virtual platform to provide support to LGBTQIA+ students on campus. 

Evolving Minds, the new virtual support structure launched by the CCDU on Tuesday, August 17, aims to provide a safe space for students identifying as LGBTQIA+. The space was created to discuss the community’s unique experiences including difficulties with stigma, coming out and discrimination. 

Clyde Kotze, a psychologist with the CCDU, and facilitator of Evolving Minds told Wits Vuvuzela that the group, which will meet weekly, will be focused on getting queer students to support one another and share their experiences. He added that, “Evolving Minds will also be offering a safe space to discuss these experiences and potential challenges.”  

According to Kotze, the CCDU was running a gender-based violence support group in the first semester and was hoping to extend the scope to cover the LGBTQIA+ community since it faces similar hardships.

The university already offers some support structure for LGBTQIA+ students such as gender-neutral bathrooms and allowing students to choose titles that align with their gender identities – changing from Mr to Ms, or Mrs to Mr. 

“There is still a need to create a safe place for people within the community to be a resource for each other,” said Kotze. 

Transformation and employment equity officer for the Wits transformation office, Tish Lumos, said, “LGBTIAQ+ people are seen as an ‘other’. In mainstream support groups, we are often a minority, and conversation centres around the cisgender and heterosexual experience.

“It is vital that our LGBTIAQ+ community has access to a space where people who have these privileges do not dominate – a space that enables healing and growth in the resilience needed in a cishet world,” added Lumos. 

A student who is known as John* to Wits Vuvuzela said, “I’m looking forward to attending these CCDU sessions and I’m excited about meeting other queer students on campus even though it is virtual at the moment.” 

Interested students can sign up for the sessions which take place every Tuesday on Zoom. 

 * Not his real name 

FEATURED IMAGE: The Wits pride wall on East Campus painted by queer society, Activate. Photo: Ntando Ximba