Queer to Slay creates safe space for LGBT+ students

Marshall’s Office of LGBTQ+ is hosting peer-to-peer group meetings for students every Tuesday and Thursday at 6 p.m. 


Queer to Slay is an all-inclusive support group that aims to provide a community and safe space for students: to connect them to resources that are not readily available to them.   


The Director of Intercultural and International students, Shaunte Polk, said that when she realized there was a lack of systemic support both within Huntington and the state of West Virginia, she knew that she had to create an opportunity for Marshall students.   


“We had students on campus who just wanted to connect with other students and for someone to help them through certain situations,” Polk said. “Nobody knows what you need the way your community does.”  


Polk said that while she encourages students to seek professional care if needed, she knew that this, while a helpful option, is not one many can afford.  


Polk also said that the group’s non-professional aspect is even more appealing because the atmosphere that a more professional environment exudes often makes young people feel like they are being examined or analyzed and can cause anxieties as a result.  


“When I talked to students about the experience, they seemed to really enjoy it,” Polk said. “It actually rivaled another support group on campus where they had actual specialists. A lot of students find that they just feel uncomfortable.”  


Polk said that this particular support group, similar to other, more focused groups like ‘Translate,’ has a peer leader‘ rotational system. This year, Brandon Hensley, a Social Work major and senior at Marshall University, leads the group.  


“I began hosting seminars for Queer to Slay support last week partially in compliance with my Social Work 634 class ‘Practice with Groups/Organizations’, but I also identify as LGBTQ+,” Hensley said. “And with the population, I wanted to create a group and opportunities for ALL individuals with interest to get together and provide questions, topics of discussion and most importantly a safe space for everyone to feel welcome.”  


Hensley said that he personally feels like the group is important to him because it allows him to communicate with other LGBTQ+ individuals and connect with others who will appreciate them, wish to know more about them and understand their experiences.  


“Providing safe opportunities for students, staff and all individuals to discuss these matters is my goal,” Hensley said. “For unanswered questions to be answered, and for people to not feel alone.”   


Queer to Slay will meet every Tuesday and Thursday at 6 p.m. No prior membership is required to join, and participation is kept confidential.   


Miranda Valles can be contacted at [email protected]