Your Turn: Where Should This Bi Girl Go to School?

In a feature I call “Your Turn,” in which you, the readers, get to answer the question, I’m presenting the following letter without commentary from me:

I’m a 24 year-old woman and pretty much a 4 on the Kinsey scale, meaning I am bi but leaning towards women for the moment because I’ve never dated them and I want to. My family has no idea that I’m bi and would freak out if I came out to them. I’m in community college right now trying to save some money for what I like to call “big girl university.” I’m unemployed and I live at home. I use my unemployment benefits to pay my bills and groceries. I’ve been looking for a job everywhere but nobody is hiring right now.

I love my mother but we have a very strained relationship at home. I want to transfer to a school by where my grandparents live — they have a lake house that they don’t use and are willing to let me live there as long as I take care of it and pay a small monthly fee! I can live on my own while I go to the local university, which is about 20 minutes away. Sounds like a good deal, but I’ve just started a LGBT group at my school and love being part of the community, or at least talking to my counselor about who I am. I feel that if I went to this other college, I would be completely isolated and would feel forced back into the closet completely. Though I’m not out to my family, I am sort of out at my community college, and nobody really takes that much of issue with it — there are a few homophobes but this is Texas, after all!

My counselor told me about a college that is super close to where my mom and I live right now and they have one of the best LGBT groups around. I really want to go to this school, because not only do they have a good psychology program but they have a great community. But I don’t know if I can stand to live with my mom any longer (she’s said I’m welcome to keep living at home while I continue school). I lover her and all, but she drives me insane. (Dorms are pretty much out of the question because I can’t afford the cost.) I almost want to stick it out at home and go to the school closest to me, but another part wants to move out and go to the other school event though I may get gay-bashed! I’m so very confused as to what to do. Please help! — Choice of Two

*If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, send me your letters at and be sure to follow me on Twitter.


  1. It takes a lot of time and effort, but look into scholarships and grants. You say that you are currently on unemployment, so you might qualify for need-based scholarships and grants (Pell Grants come to mind first). Look into academic scholarships as well. Try, which will email you opportunities that you might qualify for based on your answers to a few questions. Also, visit the financial aid office of the schools you are interested in – they might let you know of lesser-known opportunities. You might be able to afford housing with this help, by doing a work-study program, and/or volunteering to be a Resident Assistant in the dorms. Good luck!

  2. There are some questions I want to ask. Number 1, why are student loans out of the option to pay for housing arrangements at this college you want to go to? Not only can they pay for dorms, but they can usually cost the cover of an apartment. Plus, after applying for FASFA you may discover that you are eligible for work study or a pell grant. Plus, even if those student loans only cover tuition at your “big girl” university, larger universities usually have better career resources and can more easily place students within jobs on campus. Number 2, why are you convinced that your new school won’t be supportive of your sexuality? Larger universities normally have many more student organizations than your community college would, including very large LGBT communities. I would research the LGBT student group, if there is one, before committing to that college if it is going to be an important part of your campus experience. Try calling student services if you don’t know where to start. After researching student loan options as well as the LGBT community at your new school, you will probably be better informed about making a decision.

  3. So your choices are a hometown university with a good LGBT community but living with your mom or a more distant school where you would be “isolated” from the community? To me, this is a no-brainer. Go to the out of town school! You’ve started a LGBT group before, what’s stopping you from starting one again? You can’t be afraid that you may or may not have the support you might need. You need to be able to create your own support system WHEREVER you are. What about after you graduate? Would you not take your dream job the LGBT community isn’t as good as the one you have now?

    The decision comes down to staying with your mom and being part of a community that other people say is good (you don’t even know if it’s as good as they say it is!) or moving away and forming your own community. This just sounds like an adventure to me!

  4. If I were you, I would go to the college near your grandparents house and live there. You’ll have the freedom of living on your own, and living the way you want to live. You say you’ll be isolated if you go there, but why would that be? You can join the LGBT group at that school, and if there isn’t one, you can start one! It sounds like a great chance to really start living your life the way you want to.

    I’m a little confused as to why you’re assuming you’d get gay bashed if you went to the school by your grandparents. Is is a super conservative school? A religious school?? I’m from the East Coast, not Texas, so I can’t speak for how things are down there, but when I was in college (6+ years ago) there was a ton of acceptance for gay/bi students, and I’m sure people have only gotten more open minded in the years since.

    1. This.

      I mean, I’m not in TX either, but if the other school is more of a university than a community college, it probably has a population of LGBT students, and maybe already a support group or two (larger schools usually do, even in Texas).

      1. Not if that school is Baylor. They have banned all LGBT organizations there.

      2. A friend went there for his masters. He hated it.

      3. Baylor’s a Christian school… So while I don’t agree with them banning LGBT organizations, it makes sense that they might.

      4.’s a Baptist univ. I am not surprised either.

      5. But even if the school as banned groups like this, they can only really ban them on campus. She’ll be living off campus and since it’s a fairly big school with a fairly big surrounding city, I’m sure she’d be able to find some sort of group or find the people necessary to form one, off campus.

    2. I went to school in Texas, and I was fine. Except I was in a city, nowhere near a lake. 😛 I think it depends on the school, LW.

      1. *it was fine. I’m not LGBT, so I can’t speak for students at my school, I guess. I had plenty of gay friends who weren’t in the closet.

    3. As long as it’s not a private university in Texas, everything should be fine. I went to Tech and despite being in a conservative town there was a very active LGBT student organization. I’m sure UT is similar and probably UNT. I’m not sure about A&M,but I can’t imagine it being too different.

      1. I went to a private school. I think the LW should know based on her research. I’ve heard mixed…actually, negative… things about A&M administration-wise.

      2. things are rough at A&M, but i have a friend who worked with the LGBT group there, and they have an extensive ally program, so there’s been some progress. but the administration is still behind.

        texas women’s university has a good psychology program, depending on what you want to do with it, and they have an active LGBT group too, and free counseling for students. denton is a very accepting, eclectic place. i went to a small, private university in san antonio, and people were very accepting there as well.

      3. UH is a big LGBT following too not to mention a great psychology program. I’m a proud Coog myself!

      4. Painted_lady says:

        I graduated from A&M in 2005, and I know its track record is not the best, but as far as my experience goes – and no, I am not LGBT, but I have been pretty vocally pro-LGBT since I was in middle school – it’s actually a pretty welcoming community to everyone. Being there was a lesson in open-mindedness for me; I learned not to make assumptions based on people’s affiliations because some of the most accepting people I met were devout Christians or in the Corps or wearing mud-crusted boots to class. There’s a really active organization on campus called Aggie Allies, and they encourage members to put cards in their dorm windows or on office doors signaling to students that they were available for outreach to the LGBT students. I became less surprised over time to visit a uniform-wearing professor for office hours or to talk to my RA who was also a member of the Christian sorority and seeing an Allies card as I knocked on the door.

      5. GingerLaine says:

        I can get behind this. One of my friends is a VERY flamboyant gay man, and although he took a little ribbing from some of “the good ol’ boys,” he was never afraid to be exactly who he was. Even at The Dixie Chicken. 🙂

        As for me, I went to The University of Texas, and if there’s ANYWHERE in TX for people who are LGBTQ, it’s Austin. Hell, if there’s anywhere in Texas for you to be accepted as the person you are and find more like you, it’s Austin. You know. Where there’s nothing at all weird about the homeless man downtown who dresses in ladies lingerie & hands out roses. 🙂

  5. The two best things about college for me were being able to live on my own and meeting people that were like me and who accepted me for who I was (in my case, a geology nerd). Have you checked to see if there are any LGBT groups at the college near your grandparents? The lake house sounds like a pretty sweet deal and if you can get out on your own and meet new people, I think it would be worth it. If it’s a decent-sized college in a decent-sized town, I bet you will be able to find other LGBT students even if there is not an official group.

  6. To me it is all about the education you will get. Which school has the better program? Which one will produce greater benefits for you down the road? I would choose the best school where I could get the best education.

    1. This is the answer. I understand the LW wants to have support, but in end, go to the school that will enable you to do what you want (career, I assume).

    2. artsygirl says:

      beat me to the punch!

    3. tower_of_fair says:

      But I think a 24 year old could use the “life education” of living by herself, especially of having freedom to “experiment” (I use that word based on her own description– she’s never tried dating women, she wants to, that’s an experiment, not meant pejoratively at all about other bi/lesbian/etc women’s experiences, lifestyles, DNA, choices, “choices”, not-a-choice-s etc.) with her sexuality in a way that is impossible by staying at home. If one school is Rice and the other is … the One-Step-Up-From-A-Community College of South-Eastern-Westernly State University, with one with a nationally ranked program and one that no one’s ever heard of, and if they have, that’s even worse — then go to the better one. But if they are remotely of the same caliber, go away to school– your freedom will improve your outlook and spirit, which if you direct it properly, will improve your grades and graduating top of your class at slighly subpar school by the grandparents with wonderful girlfriend (who you can sleep with in your own home) is far better than graduating middle of your class, still in the closet to your mother, hiding your relationships and part of yourself.

  7. artsygirl says:

    Instead of deciding on which school to go to based on the community, I would look at which one has the best program. You are in psychology which normally means you will have to continue in school to get a MA if not a medical license, depending on which career you would like to pursue. Check out which program has the highest completion and placement rates. No matter where you go you will be able to find a community even if it isn’t a LGBT per say.

    Also if you are looking into good schools with strong psychology departments and LGBT communities you can’t do better than Indiana University home of Dr. Kinsey himself.

  8. So, nobody else is concerned about an unemployed 24 year old choosing a college based on which would provide the best community of 19 and 20 year olds?

    Fine, I’ll be the bad guy. LW needs to be focusing like a laser on her career, and should probably get a job and go to night school at the place that (as others have said) has the best academic program for her.

    1. Amen! Choose what will further your:
      1. Independence
      2. Education
      3. Finding a community
      Who you’d like to hang out with is on the list, but it is by far not the most important item.

    2. yea i agree- i mean being “accepted” is important, and everyone needs that, but giving up some years with stupid people to in the long run get a greater career.. that seems worth it to me.

  9. You seem to be putting alot of weight on your sexuality when making a decision about where to go to school.

    You are young-ish – is the bisexuality something that you’ve just recently discovered about yourself, and so maybe the newness of such a revelation is causing you to put more focus on that aspect of who you are than you might otherwise?

    1. jessielyn says:

      Your first sentence sums up what I was thinking perfectly. LW, we are in a recession. Go to the school with the best program. You will be glad you did in the long run. When you are out in the job market, the employer won’t care that you are bi, but they will care about the quality of the education and training you received.

  10. As the other comments have suggested there are a LOT of schools that will support LGBT communities….so focus on the education first and use the social community reputation of the schools that are left to make your final decision. There is a whole big world out there….

  11. LW, being bi may be part of who you are but not everything about who you are. Don’t choose a school based on which LGBT program they have &/or if they have one. I know it’s scary to move away from home, but I’m pretty sure there are more schools that are accepting to LGBT than not. It would help if we knew what kind of school the one by your grandparents is.
    All in all, it sounds like if you move away, you’ll still be with family, so the transition won’t be as difficult. As everyone is suggesting, choose the school that will benefit your education & future career in the long run.

  12. anonymous says:

    This letter feels very confused to me.

    She’s not “out” at home, but she’s afraid of moving away from her school support network because she might be “bashed”? So she’s having to conceal something she feels to be a major part of herself at the moment from her family, and she perceives that to be safer? I’m not sure I get that.

    Also, what are the implications of not being “out” to your family — and what are the dating implications of living at home? Are you able to spend the night out? Have overnight guests with you? If you aren’t, have you talked to your grandparents about what they will/will not permit since you will be essentially a guest under their roof? For some reason, I foresee the s hitting the f if/when the grandparents discover that you’re living in their house with a woman with whom you’re sexually involved. Not saying that this will happen, but the potential is there.

    I agree with what another writer said, though. Sexuality is but ONE ASPECT of who you are. There are many other issues to consider when committing to something as important as a college you will attend. This letter sounds like the work of someone much younger than 24.

  13. You started a LGBT community at your current school – can’t you do it at your new school as well? The chance to have your OWN place, school nearby, escape your strained relationship with your mom, AND a fresh start? What could be better? All I can say, from not the knowing the whole situation, is that if your main reason not to move is the fear of the unknown, don’t let this be the main reason. A new place can be just as wonderful, if not better, than the old and you know for sure several negative factors will be missing from your new situation. Just visualize yourself in your new life, and put in the new, cool, people you are most likely to meet. To me this is a no-brainer, go for the lakehouse!

    1. Painted_lady says:

      Amen, Marie! Honestly, where you get your undergrad degree in psychology won’t matter all that much as long as your grades are good and you get some internships and research credits to your name. As soon as you figure out where you’re going, start talking to your advisor to see what your options are to pursue getting some hands-on work outside of class. The motivation and experience look much better to grad schools than the name on the diploma.

      Beyond that, you need some independence. You will find an LGBT community at any major university or small liberal arts school that isn’t affiliated with a religion, and if there isn’t an official organization, you know you can start one. What you won’t find at the one close to home is the sense of freedom to be yourself. Even if you’re a member of this great organization at this school close to your mother’s home, you’re still going to be in the closet a huge percentage of the time due to your home situation. What would it be like to be completely out other than when you visit your mom? How much confidence and courage would that give you? How awesome would it be to not have to worry about being outed – having to hide literature, introduce dates as “friends,” or to omit the full truth when you come home about where you’ve been? Step on out there, girl!

  14. I’m sorry, but I couldn’t read past unemployment benefits.

    You live with your parents. You do not deserve government help. I know I’m going to get thumbed down A LOT for saying this, but I think unemployment benefits should be reserved for the needy. Not for privileged young adults in college who live with their parents. Unemployment benefits are a desperate measure for desperate times–not a free source of income for someone who doesn’t even have to support herself.

    Why don’t you have a job? I’m not being snarky–I’m genuinely wondering how you qualified for benefits or why you would apply for them in the first place? I’m sorry, but the whole, “I’m privileged enough to afford higher education without a job, and to have the benefit of a cushy lake house to myself on the cheap, but I’d still like a handout” thing really irks me.

    1. I don’t know if you know anything about business, but businesses pay a lot for unemployment insurance. So if employees get laid off, the business has already paid for their unemployment. It’s not a handout. If she is on unemployment, she WAS working.

    2. i agree with you… i understand that employers pay for unemployement, but it should still only be used as a last resort- as in your about to become homeless. this girl is living basically free at her mothers house… i think there are much more needy people in this world (just this country!) that could be gaining a whole lot more from that money…

      1. I disagree. If you were laid off, you are entitled to the money. So if I get laid off and I live with my father, I am not entitled to the money my employer paid for already, simply bc I have housing? Or if a husband gets laid off, he can’t get benefits bc his wife works or provides housing? That makes no sense. That’s why it’s called insurance.

      2. tower_of_fair says:

        Totally agree with kate, no i. Your salary includes paying for unemployment (as employers pass the loss off to their employees, and if not, then its a benefit, which is part of your compensation package) — you lose your job, you’re entitled to collect unemployment as long as you follow the rules. She knows no one is hiring, which means she has tried to obtain other employement. Need doesn’t and shouldn’t factor in. I pay for something called dismemberment insurance with my job. I am really really really hoping never to use it, but if, heaven forbid, i become eligible, you’d better believe I’m collecting, even if i can still, you know, use my other appendages. same thing.

      3. i just dont really see her actually, truly needing it. once you have kids, and car payments and house payments and things like that, it becomes truly needing it. i just honestly cannot agree that a college student living at home truly needs unemployement checks.

      4. Who’s to say a college student doesn’t have car payments, etc.? There are limits on unemployment and she likely worked close to full time. I just don’t think you understand what unmployment actually IS.

      5. VioletLover says:

        She said she’s using it to pay for bills and groceries. What if she is making payments on a car, or has medical expenses? I live with my boyfriend and he pays the rent entirely, so if I get laid off because I have a place to stay. I don’t “need” the unemployment…except that I’ve paid into it and not having it could mean I default on payments, could lose my cell phone/internet, which would make hunting for a new job much harder (which the LW says she’s doing).

        I think things might be a bit nicer if people would give others the benefit of the doubt. Maybe she really does need the money. What she doesn’t need is people saying things like spark’s entire post, which was awfully judgmental without offering a scrap of advice to the LW, or telling the LW that her situation doesn’t deserve the money, without even knowing anything about it. It’s unhelpful, unkind, and unnecessary.

        I know that we Wendy readers are all about the straight talk and the snark, but that doesn’t mean we need to be rude to someone looking for advice, who said she’s looking for a job and trying to go to school.

  15. Natasia Rose says:

    As a big homo, I can understand why she’s worried about isolating herself from the gay community. Sometimes a girl just needs to hang out with her queers, ya know?

    I think the LW has two options.
    1) Go into debt, move out and live on loans and go to the school with the better program and LGBT community. BUT debt blows.
    2) Live in your grandparents house for free and go to school there. Be the big fish in the little pond and get the best grades you can to stand out in the job market. Get the phone numbers of everyone (boi, grrl, male and female) in the LGBT association you are in NOW. Don’t be shy, just do it. Text them, be their friends. Make the long drive to see them when they go to gay bars or do gay things.

    Good luck lady!

    ps. Also, one can be gay bashed anytime anywhere. One of Brooklyn’s most queer friendly neighborhoods had a bashing last fall. So it’s an understandable fear.

    1. VioletLover says:

      Why not go to the grandparent’s house, for free, and go to school there for awhile? Get some transferable credits and so on, a part time job maybe, and save that money up (which she otherwise would be spending on rent) and use it to help fund going to the bigger school? Being out of her mom’s place (even if it’s just to her grandparent’s) might help her get a feel for living independently.

  16. i feel like you are thinking about your short term happiness, which in college is not a good choice. college kind of sucks. you live on little to no money, trying to advance your future without racking up too much debt. you work hard, at work and in class, and get nothing in terms of instant gratitude for it. i think you need to base your desicion on what school will give you the better future, not which school will make your college years easier. college is about giving you a better future- more income, a degree you can use to get a better job, ect… college is not supposed to be about the different communities you can find and whether or not you are “accepted”, that is secondary. focus on your future, because i am willing to bet that in your future, if you go to a “lesser” college and don’t get the education/experience/degree you need, but you had a blast with your different groups, you will be kicking yourself for not going to the better school and just putting up with a couple years without an instant support system for a whole future life’s worth of higher income, a better chance for grad school, more job opportunites, ect, ect. try to look at the big picture.

    1. tower_of_fair says:

      I feel like your end advice, to this LW is sound (focus on the future, grad school, jobs, etc), but I totally disagree with you about the point of college generally. (I also think LW’s age, 24 instead of the typical 18, is the crucial difference here.)

      Sad about your college experience, katie! College (to 18 year olds) should absolutely be about finding a community to figure out who you are, who you want to become, what you want to do, and how you want to do it, and becoming a well-rounded, “educated” person. I agree that there are some pretty useless majors out there, and for most people, they should be avoided, if only to aboid having to explain why, as a philosophy major, you are trying to get a job as an investment banker (and not, you know, a philosopher). Its about finding a great set of friends for life, and fun, and learning to be a responsible adult slowly, instead of overnight when you turn 18. It’s a life experience, a defining one for most people, not something to get out of the way.

      But, college is different for a 24 year old, especially one who clearly actively wants a better education and better job situation — as evidenced by your community college and desire to go to “big girl” school. And LW, you should put more weight on the practical improvements in your situation that school can give you than you should about social scene, if only because you will be seriously older than the majority of freshmen, and the community might not work as well for you because of it. And I generally advise following Katie’s plan, as it will probably serve you well.

      But no one i know thought “college kind of sucks.” If anything, i think the real world kind of sucks, and avenue Q wrote a pretty good song describing that sentiment. (and why it might be more difficult for the LW to “fit in”)

      1. i just think that college should be first about setting you up for the rest of your life in the job catagory. of course people “find themselves” and all that, and yes that is definitely important, and it should happen (i never said it shouldn’t), but i feel like all that should be in addition to getting a good education, not the primary reason.

        like i said, your gonna kick your younger self if you chose the party school that is fun in the present, instead of the academic school that would have given you endless opportunities for your future.

        i just felt like college was exactly the same as high school, but less curfews, more sleepovers, and definitely more booze. it was the same drama, the same school “system” of going to school each day, weekends off, ect, the same teachers you love and teachers you hate… i just felt it was a repeat without all the parental consent.

      2. tower_of_fair says:

        I guess I didn’t see your point as party school v. academic school; I saw it as cheap and effecient v. deep and meaningful. It didn’t dawn on me that the debate might involve a party school. I totally agree with that. I guess “become well rounded”, in my head, assumed that you’d want the “highest caliber” (i just felt gross writing that) of people to surround yourself with, who valued the education and life experience as much as you do, not people who just wanted to get drunk and laid. So I guess we basically agree.


      3. yea, that point definitely makes it in a whole different light. i think deep and meaningful is the way to go always in education. and i guess you would hope that if the education is deep and meaningful, then the other people there will be to.

        cheap and effecient isn’t always the best way to go, because in the long run the cheaper degree wont get you the places you want it to… the education should just be the main focus, in my opinion. why pay all that money if you dont care about the education your getting, you know? and futhermore- and this is totally off subject- why would anyone in college ever ditch class? your paying for it! like you can literally break down how much each class costs you to attend, per day. i just did not get those people in college. i would rather stay late in my classes any day and learn more, because thats what im paying for. i hated the people, and there were a lot of them, who just wanted to get out early to start partying. ugh.

      4. oh- and the “college kind of sucks” came from my friends who lived without like any money all the time…. my daddy gave me all the money i wanted! lol. and i worked too, towards the end. my college experience was actually pretty sweet!

  17. I live near TTU and there are tons of queer ladies out here, and almost all of them that I’ve met are super awesome. Most of the straight people are pretty cool, too. So if it’s Tech you’re talking about, I think you’d like it. Ultimately though, I think you should run the numbers and do whichever will be cheaper. A Psychology degree is not exactly a huge money maker, so you really want to keep a handle on debt. If you do go to the further away school, try to be bold and brave and adventurous. As an older student, I bet you can really do a lot to help out the LGBTQWERTY youngsters that are fresh out of highschool & also looking for support.

  18. Your education must come first, the best diploma at the best place for you is the most important! the social side is also important for your development as a person, but it is a project that has no cut off date, and will continue as long as you have breath in your body!

    1. tower_of_fair says:

      Best diploma but midlevel grades is not better than slightly lower ranked with highest honors; Summa Cum Laude looks better than a 3.3, as long as the descrepancy isn’t that big between the schools. But evaluate yourself honestly — I was never going to be an Aplus student — I’m an A-/B+ student no matter where i’d go, so I chose my schools knowing that. But if the discrepancy is too big, then it isn’t worth it. A C at Harvard beats an Summa from U-Mass Lowell, in terms of employers and grad schools.

  19. I know this might sound a little far fetched, but have you ever though of attending a Canadian university? Tuition can often be a lot cheaper, even as an international student. There are many students at my school from the states who came because they wanted a high quality education, but also wanted to save several thousand dollars. Most Canadian universities are quite good for the transferring process, and depending on which school you go to and possibly which city, you could absolutely find the type of community it seems you are looking for. Sorry if that sounds a little out there, but I know a lot of people who do that to save money, and have been very pleased with their decision on all fronts.

    1. she lives in TX. Most of us Texans freak out at the sight of one snowflake. I know I could never live in a place that has blizzards.

  20. I’ve lived a few years in Texas before I moved up north, and snow is great! Not everywhere has blizzards.

  21. Hey,
    There were quite a few very informative and some good advice responses to you your question. What I would add is, that life is really, super short, there is no guarantee of anything, except that each morning when you wake up, those 24 hours are yours. The future is a preconceived idea full what we should and should not do, but as the German poet Rilke once said to a young poet who wrote to him for advice, “ when you lay in your bed at night alone, ask yourself the question that preoccupies you the most, and somewhere deep down within you will hear a voice answering you, and that voice is the only one you should listen too”, so what I am saying is take the time to really listen to your inner self and use what the world has on offer to make it happen. You got some really useful tips from some of the others, so information is another key to helping that voice find it’s way. Wishing you much good luck and very happy life.

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