Group helps students questioning sexuality, gender

Chris Suarez
Staff writer

Entering its third year on campus, Rainbow Group will continue offering safe and constructive group counseling sessions for the LGBTQIA community at VCU.

To be all-inclusive and welcoming, members University Counseling Services decided this semester to invite those who identify as queer, intersex, asexual or questioning to the support group sessions.

“We wanted to make sure that people who weren’t listed know that they’re welcome and that their experience is one that is valued and also important to talk about,” said Jan Altman, Ph. D, Psychologist and Coordinator for VCU Safe Zone, the meta-organization and campaign which promotes education and certifies classrooms and offices as places friendly and sensitive to the needs of LGBTQIA students and faculty.

While registration to participate is required, information is kept confidential. The support group is meant to serve as a weekly session for students and faculty who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, asexual or are questioning their gender or sexuality.

Those attending the group meetings are offered a social setting to openly speak, receive advice, kinship and resources from certified counselors and fellow students who could be sharing a similar experience as them.

Prior to the creation of Rainbow Group, Altman saw the growing number of student organizations and clubs meant to serve the needs of LGBTQIA students. Organizations and university institutions such as the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs, Queer Action and Equality VCU, Altman said, were instrumental in lobbying for an on-campus support group.

“I talked to my director Jihad Aziz, and he was very supportive, but he didn’t want to start it unless it was something consistent,” said Altman.

Altman said the group is effective in offering support for the LGBTQIA community on campus by offering discussion and solidarity, but recommends those who may be experiencing severe difficulties or trauma to seek therapy.

Included in tuition, anyone with a valid student ID is able to register for individual or group therapy sessions at the University Counseling Room offices on the second floor of the Commons in room 238.

For students interested in meeting with Rainbow Group, Altman said the registration process is necessary and includes a short meeting with either Altman or one of the co-leaders in the organization.



To register or learn more, please contact Jan Altman at (804) 828-6200 or

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