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Calls For Help Rise Among LGBTQ College Students Rejected By Families

Web picture of Dean of Students web site.
David Bentlin of ISU and the Prairie Pride Coalition said requests for help from students cut off by families because of their LGBTQ status have been rising in recent years.

The college school year is young, yet already three Illinois State University students have applied for emergency aid after coming out to their family as LGBTQ.

David Bentlin of ISU and the Prairie Pride Coalition helps administer the emergency aid fund in the Dean of Students Office. It assists those whose families have cut them off, or in one case, physically assaulted them.

"There was violence sustained that would result in a trip to the hospital. It was pretty severe and it was unfortunate," said Bentlin.

The fund has been operating since 2005. And Bentlin said this year has been among the highest on record for calls on the fund.

"It has been busy this year. I'll say that. Since January we have had nine students that we have supported, all of whom have come out to family members and have lost the emotional and financial support," said Bentlin.

The fund offers money for whatever is needed. That could be clothing, food, tuition and other immediate needs for those cut off by family because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

He said average awards are in the $1,500-$2,000 range.

Bentlin said students who receive assistance tend to be highly motivated to try to continue at ISU. He said they typically work more than one job and apply for numerous scholarships. The assistance fund, he said, is just one way for the campus community to support LGBTQ students.

Bentlin said public donations to the fund are also welcome.

Bentlin said for years the requests for aid have been falling, until 2017 when the numbers began to creep up again.

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WGLT Senior Reporter Charlie Schlenker has spent more than three award-winning decades in radio. He lives in Normal with his family.