Series of benches in Pride colours on U of G campusAs part of Pride Month, the University of Guelph will host a panel discussion June 29 at 7 p.m. about the experiences of LGBTQ2IA+ students during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Panellists will discuss the unique challenges faced by community members during the pandemic and offer ideas and strategies for LGBTQ2IA+ students.

The discussion follows a survey in December that invited LGBTQ2IA+ students to share their experiences during the pandemic, said Jarred Sanchez-Cacnio, sexual and gender diversity adviser with Student Experience at U of G.

“A peer helper in our office launched the anonymous survey to capture some stories and experiences from students,” said Sanchez-Cacnio. “We received a lot of really rich feedback and stories from the student community about some of the unique complexities they’ve encountered as a result of the pandemic, including what they experienced during stay-at-home and lockdown.”

The challenges included strained relationships with family or housemates, and lack of connections to others with similar lived experiences, Sanchez-Cacnio said.

Young man in plaid shirt smiling
Jarred Sanchez-Cacino

Many found it more difficult to feel safe and affirmed in their identity away from the inclusive and supportive U of G campus community where they can live their authenticity.

The survey is intended to promote solidarity and collective reflection among community members.

Of the 73 people responding to the survey, 87 per cent identified “nervous” as one of their strongest feelings during the pandemic, while 59 per cent said they were experiencing sadness. Just 18 per cent described themselves as happy.

The survey found that moods run the gamut, from anxious, depressed, stressed and trapped, to tired, disheartened, lonely and isolated.

When the HIV/AIDS epidemic first hit in the early 1980s, Sanchez-Cacnio said, the LGBTQ2IA+ community was strongly impacted. But many stories and records of their experiences during that time were lost.

“The student who carried out the survey thought about the context of the current pandemic and wanted to capture some of those stories and experiences in a meaningful way,” they said. “It’s like a brief snapshot in history that shows what the community was going through at this particular time.”

U of G and wider community members are invited to participate in the panel discussion, read the report and reflect on how best to support the LGBTQ2IA+ community.

“Empathy and patience are hugely important component of supporting this community.”

Registration is required to attend the hour-long panel discussion


Jarred Sanchez-Cacnio