‘The college operates on a philosophy of being open and accepting’

CNA administrators and counsellors say they want all students to feel welcome and accepted at the college.

Mark Chafe

The world is slowly, but surely, becoming a more inclusive place for those in the LGBTQ+ community. One important part of this inclusion is ensuring schools are safe and non-judgemental places.

College of the North Atlantic is trying to create that safe learning environment. As of right now, there are no policies specifically geared towards LGBTQ+ students. The college does, however, believe that no matter your race, religion or sexual orientation, you should feel welcome.

Paul Forward is a campus administrator at CNA. He believes the college is a community, and the community is accepting of the fact that students and faculty have different lifestyles, perspectives and needs.

“The college operates on a philosophy of being open and accepting,” Forward said. “From that perspective, I’m hoping that we’re achieving those goals so that students who are in the LGBTQ community feel that they’re welcome here and if they do have any issues, they can bring them forward.”

Forward said he has heard of very few issues during his 18 years working at the college.

“This leads me to believe that at least on the surface level, we’re doing right by our students,” Forward said.

“In an ideal world, we would all be very proactive and every time there is a need for a new policy it would be there, ready and waiting,” Forward said. “If it needs to happen, it should happen.”

Tara Thomas, a counsellor at CNA, says there is a likely reason there haven’t been any specific policies made for the LGBTQ+ community.

“It (college policies) doesn’t target the LGBTQ as one individual group because then we would have to create a different policy for every individual group, which would be overwhelming,” Thomas said.

Tara Thomas is a counsellor at CNA. She wants students, including those in the LGBTQ+ community, to know her services are accepting of all students.  Mark Chafe/Kicker.

She says most of the students she has helped within that community have been those going through what she calls a, “questioning phase.” Those who are not sure how they fit in, transitioning from male to female or female to male, or just learning to accept who they are.

While she has never encountered any students who have experienced or expressed feelings of being unsafe or bullied on campus, she says that doesn’t mean it isn’t happening. It just means they may have not reached out to her or any of the other counsellors she knows of.

“People may suffer in silence,” Thomas said. “That’s a really sad thing to think that if anyone on this campus is suffering in silence, because I’d like to think our counselling team is quite open, professional and accepting.”

Thomas says counsellors at CNA are ready and willing to meet anyone who is having any sort of problem at the college.

“I’d like them to know we are a LGBTQ friendly group. We are allies,” Thomas said. “We have a lot of information and a lot of resources that we can connect them with. We are open, friendly, accepting and willing to help in any way we can.”