For years, USC has supported LGBT students through programming, mentorship and community building. Now the university is one of the first in the nation to extend that support to parents.
The idea for the group developed when Parent Programs Assistant Director Maria Riley heard a conference speaker discuss the unique difficulties that LGBT households face when children leave for college.
“The thing that came out of it for me was how much these parents needed support,” Riley said. “I came back from that seminar thinking this would be a wonderful addition to campus.”
Riley collaborated with Beth Saul, director of the Office for Parent Programs, and Vincent Vigil, director of the LGBT Resource Center. Together, they created the LGBT Pride Parent Circle, one of the first university-sponsored LGBT parent organizations in the nation.
“We looked at the Pac 12 and the top 25 LGBT colleges from The Advocate College Guide for LGBT Students to see if they had LGBT parent associations,” Vigil said. “No one really had anything. So we think this is going to be one of the first.”
Though USC has sponsored informal events for LGBT parents in the past, the LGBT Pride Parent Circle will be able to serve the community even more effectively as an official organization. The program will provide a safe haven for all parents in the LGBT community — whether they are the parents of an LGBT student or identify as LGBT. For parents still grappling with their child’s identity, the group can also offer emotional support and parent-to-parent counsel.
Veronica Presley, mother of senior Kristopher Patrick, said she would be interested in taking advantage of the new program.
“I’m interested in anything that supports my son,” she said. “I know of people that came out to their parents, and their parents didn’t know how to take it. I think it’s good if parents are able to get together in a group, discuss and share what they feel.”
The LGBT Pride Parent Circle will hold events on campus throughout the year, beginning on Move-In Day, an emotional day for parents bidding their children goodbye. Other events will include tailgates during Trojan Family Weekend and homecoming.
“It’s an opportunity to get an additional group of parents engaged in the university community,” Saul said. “And to reinforce the welcoming outreach of the Trojan Family.”