Mental Health Highlight: The Pride Center


The Pride Center is located in Blackburn Science Building Room 243. (Dionte Berry/The News)

Jill Smith, Staff Writer

The Pride Center is offering students new services and programs this semester aimed at supporting LGBTQ+ students. 

The mission statement of the Pride Center is to provide a space for students to grow, connect and engage with the LGBTQ+ community through services, activities, support, training and social events. 

Abigail Cox, director of the Pride Center, said it’s important for students to have a space on campus where they feel comfortable. 

“It is a space for individuals to find belonging and experience community within our larger campus community,” Cox said. “We hope that this not only helps them be successful here at Murray State but that it also increases their wellbeing and personal growth.”

One new initiative that began this fall is First Year Pride (FYP), which is a semester-long program for first time LGBTQ+ freshmen to connect with a support system at Murray State. 

“FYP supports the transition from high school to campus by providing academic mentoring, monthly social opportunities and campus connections to resources and allies from across campus,” according to the Pride Center website. 

Cox said this new initiative will help students adjust to campus life.  

“In general, FYP gets students connected to the Pride Center early so that they know they have someone to talk to when they need assistance,” Cox said.  “It also helps us reach out to see how students are doing and see what resources they may need to be successful.” 

To address a need she saw on campus, Cox started a chest binder service during the spring 2022 semester. 

A chest binder is a compression undergarment individuals, often transgender or nonbinary, use to flatten their breasts. 

Cox said that while the center does not provide chest binders, they provide assistance with sizing and allow students to try different sizes on. 

The center accepts gift cards to help students who need financial assistance to buy a chest binder. 

Students in need of this service can fill out a form on the Pride Center’s website.

Starting in 2021, the Pride List is a way for the campus community to show their support for LGBTQ+ students. 

“Individuals who sign are given the opportunity to share a message of pride or allyship, which they share on social media to share support for our students,” Cox said. “The publication will be released annually on Oct. 1 as a kickoff to LGBTQ+ History Month.”

Over 150 campus affiliated individuals have signed the Pride List with 35% of those individuals being students and 25.5% being staff.

The Campus Pride Index is a national benchmark tool for universities to create a more inclusive environment for LGBTQ+ students. The Pride Center uses the Campus Pride Index tool to show the University’s commitment to LGBTQ+ inclusive policies and programs. 

Murray State scored a 3.5 out of 5 on the Campus Pride Index, with recruitment and  retention scoring the lowest at 2.5 stars. 

Cox said the Pride Advisory team, composed of campus leaders, is working together to prioritize goals to improve this score. 

The goals for this year focus on transparency across the campus community. With their goals outlined, the Advisory Team is working toward a plan to approach them.

The Pride Advisory Team plans to create an evaluation of how the campus collects, shares and stores identity information and a best practice toolkit to share broadly on campus.

Faculty and staff can participate in Ally Hour, a collaborative effort to discuss strategies for creating a safe space on campus. The next session will be Oct. 7 and registration can be completed through the Racer Pride Press newsletter. 

The Pride Center offers Safe Zone training, which provides students, faculty and staff with the tools needed to explore their own understanding and perceptions of the LGBTQ+ community. 

Individuals can sign up for Safe Zone training by visiting the Pride Center’s website and clicking on the “Safe Zone” tab. 

There are several LGBTQ+ organizations on campus: Alliance, Students for Cultivating Change, oStem and Tea Party.  

Alliance is Murray State’s LGBTQ+ organization on campus. To receive updates, follow them on Instagram at msu_alliance or email them at [email protected]. 

Students for Cultivating Changes is a professional development organization for LGBTQ+ agriculture students.

oStem is a professional development organization for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math students, according to the Pride Center Website. 

Tea Party is a new peer group on campus for non-binary and transgender students. For more information, email [email protected]. 

The Pride Center holds a Lavender Graduation ceremony every winter and spring term for graduating seniors who are a member of the LGBTQ+ community. Each participant will receive a rainbow cord to be worn at their graduation ceremony. 

The Pride Center is located in Room 243 in the Blackburn Science Building. For updates, follow the Pride Center on Instagram at msu_lgbt or sign up for their monthly newsletter, the Racer Pride Press, on the Pride Center website at