In the fall of 2023, Sacred Heart University hired the inaugural manager of LGBTQ+ affairs, Kyle Humphreys. Humphreys identifies as trans-masculine and uses him/his/they/them pronouns.
“Kyle’s educational, professional, and lived experiences make him an outstanding person for this role,” said Maurice Nelson, Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer at SHU.
The manager of LGBTQ+ affairs is primarily responsible for overseeing the Sexuality and Gender Equity (SAGE) Center. They are also affiliated with the Gender Sexuality Alliance (GSA) and are involved with building a welcoming community for students, especially those who are a part of the LGBTQ+ community.
According to Sacred Heart’s website, “The SAGE Center is designed to center, celebrate and uplift the experiences of SHU’s queer community. Additionally, it promotes the inclusion of all identities through programmatic and educational initiatives.”
Humphreys said he hopes to prove to Sacred Heart students that they “are important and deserving of a community that welcomes and embraces” them.
Humphreys graduated from the College of Saint Rose in 2020, with a bachelor’s degree in communications. His education equipped him with tools for varying career paths which ultimately led him to accept this position at Sacred Heart.
“I actually published my own research after I had
graduated about social media as a tool for activism for transgender people,” Humphreys said. “It was that kind of work that further pushed me into being a more community-oriented person,”
One of Humphreys’ goals in the position is to increase the university’s involvement with local communities, especially with high schools and LGBTQ+ youth.
“I would really like for them to come here and explore campus, imagine their life in higher education, and talk with students and professionals who are LGBTQ+ in higher education to get the facts, dispel some fears, and give them some confidence,” Humphreys said.
“I think that’s something a lot of young people struggle with, especially considering the high rates of mental illness and suicidal ideation compared to their straight and non-transgender peers.”
According to a 2023 survey from the Trevor Project, 41% of LGBTQ youth seriously considered attempting suicide within the past year.
“LGBTQ+ people aren’t going anywhere. For institutions to implement policies, positions, and resource centers to support LGBTQ+ people is not only good practice, but it’s also a good retention strategy. If you make students feel like this is a place where they can bring their entire self, then they’re not going to bring that self elsewhere,” Humphreys said.
Sacred Heart is one of many universities striving to improve upon diversity and inclusivity. The leaders in the Office for Inclusive Excellence, including
Humphreys, are directly involved in this mission. “If your institution is only serving a specific
faction of people, you’re really not serving as many people as you could be. You’re really not doing the greatest amount of good with what you have,” Humphreys said.
“Our vision is to be a model for inclusive excellence in higher education. Notwithstanding, I am under no illusion that we have arrived,” Nelson said. “While operating with humility, I do believe that other institutions can be and are influenced by our inclusive excellence resources. Conversely, we will continue to learn from and be influenced by inclusive excellence efforts at other institutions.”
“One of the things I really want to do with my life is to leave the world a better place than it would have been, had I not entered it,” Humphreys said.
As manager of LGBTQ+ affairs for Sacred Heart, Humphreys is actively pursuing this intention.
“I don’t have to be the go-to person, but I would hope that any student, whether or not they’re LGBTQ+ knows that they can come to me if they need somebody to talk to because I know how valuable and important that can be,” Humphreys said. “I like being able to inspire students and make them feel welcome.”
In a Sacred Heart press release, Humphreys said, “I continue to meet so many passionate, enthusiastic people who are proud to be Pioneers. And it is such a pleasure and an honor to call myself a Pioneer alongside them.”