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Frequently Asked Questions About Mental & Physical Health Support for LGBTQ Students at Vassar

Counseling

Sexual Assault and Violence Prevention / Office of Health Education

Sexually Transmitted Infections Testing and Birth Control

Trans-Specific Care

Counseling

Will the Gender and Sexual Diversities Metcalf group start again?

Yes, in the Fall of 2015. To join or learn more about the group, contact the Counseling Service at (845) 437-5700 to schedule a pre-group information meeting with one of our counselors. An initial meeting with the counselor leading the group is usually required.

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How can I get financial support to pay for off-campus counseling sessions (whether it be co-pays and/or transportation to the appointment)?

Students who are Pell Grant recipients are eligible to have their off-campus counseling copays and transportation paid for by the Vassar Mental Health and Wellness Fund. International students with similar financial situations to Pell Grant recipients may also qualify. If you are a Pell Grant recipient who is referred off-campus for counseling care, let the Counseling Service staff member you work with know that you need financial support. The counselor will then let you know the steps you need to take to request funding from the Financial Aid Office, which may including signing a release which allows your Metcalf counselor to talk with Financial Aid directly.

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What is the availability of counseling at night and on the weekends?

The Counseling Service does not offer in-person counseling at night or on the weekend. However, students can access on-call emergency mental health assistance after 5pm on weekdays and on weekends during the school year by calling the Campus Response Center at (845) 437-7333. In addition, students can contact peer listeners through The Listening Center at (845) 235-2062 24/7, for confidential support when the situation is not an emergency.

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How can I find LGBTQ-friendly off-campus therapists?

LGBTQ students are welcome to ask their Metcalf counselor to recommend LGBTQ-friendly off-campus providers. The Counseling Service keeps a list of counselors they have met and students have given overall positive reviews to and will work with you to try to find a good fit.

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What kind of LGBTQ-specific training do Counseling Service counselors receive?

All new Counseling Service counselors receive training on LGBTQ issues when they start at Vassar. The staff as a whole continually reviews and discusses best practices for supporting LGBTQ students throughout the year. In addition, the Counseling Service, Baldwin Health Service, and the Office of Health Education have received training from NYC-based LGBTQ health provider Callen Lorde in the fall of 2013. The offices plan to bring Callen Lorde trainers back in the 2015/16 school year for additional training and support.

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Are Counseling Service counselors required to ask if a student is LGBTQ?

No, Vassar’s counselors are not required to directly ask for a student to disclose their sexuality or gender identity. Each session begins by asking students what name and pronouns they use. Student are welcome to share their specific sexuality or gender identity if they choose at any time.

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Sexual Assault and Violence Prevention / Office of Health Education

How many LGBTQ-identified Sexual Assault Response Team (SART) Advisors are there?

As of fall of 2015, there are two LGBTQ-identified members on the SART team, which is a trained group Vassar faculty, staff, and administrators that can provide you with support, help you access resources, or give you information about sexual assault, dating violence, domestic violence, and stalking. You are welcome to request speaking with an LGBTQ SART Advisor when you call. To contact SART, call the Campus Response Center at (845) 437-7333 and ask for a SART advisor.

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What kind of LGBTQ-specific training do Office of Health Education and Sexual Assault and Violence Prevention employees receive?

The Director of Health Education and the Coordinator of Sexual Assault and Violence Prevention attended a two-day workshop in spring 2015 on Serving LBGTQ Survivors of Violence. The Director of Health Education has regularly attended other trainings on LGBTQ communities and couples around dating and domestic violence, as well as trainings on working with LGBTQ students regarding substance abuse.

The Office of Health Education, the Counseling Service, and Baldwin Health Service have received training from NYC-based LGBTQ health provider Callen Lorde in the fall of 2013. The offices plan to bring Callen Lorde trainers back in the 2015/16 school year for additional training and support.

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Sexually Transmitted Infections Testing and Birth Control

What sexually transmitted infection (STI) testing is provided at Baldwin Health Service? Are there any fees?

All STI tests are available to students at Vassar’s Health Service, including HIV testing. STI tests are of no cost to the student if they are on the Vassar health plan. If the student is 18 or over, their parent(s) will not be able to have any access to the record of the STI tests because of privacy laws.

For students not on the Vassar health plan, STI testing is still available to you at Baldwin, but your insurance may require a co-pay. If charged a co-pay and you are uncomfortable with your parents receiving the bill for this service, let the Baldwin provider know and you can direct where the bill should be sent

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How can students get tested for HIV? Is it covered in Vassar’s student health plan?

Free HIV testing is covered by the Vassar student health plan, and can be administered at Baldwin.

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What birth control is covered by Vassar student health plan?

For students on the Vassar health plan, Baldwin Health Service providers can write you a prescription for free birth control, which you can pick up at a local pharmacy. Or, if you need birth control immediately, Baldwin also has packs on hand, for $15 a pack.

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What are my options for off-campus STI testing and/or birth control?

If you would like to go off campus for STI testing and/or birth control, check out Planned Parenthood and/or the Dutchess County Health Department . It may be helpful to call in advance to see if they accept your insurance and/or what the costs of testing may be (HIV testing is free at the Health Department).

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Is PrEP provided and covered by Baldwin and Vassar’s student health plan?

Not at this time. However, New York State is moving towards making pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) more affordable and available, so Baldwin hopes this might be covered by the school health plan in future years.

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What kind of LGBTQ-specific training do Baldwin Health Service employees receive?

Baldwin employees are instructed to follow LGBTQ providers Fenway Health and Callen-Lorde Community Health Center protocols, since they are best practices in the field for supporting LGBTQ patients. Baldwin, Metcalf, and the Office of Health Education has received training from NYC-based LGBTQ health provider Callen Lorde in the fall of 2013. The offices plan to bring Callen Lorde trainers back in the 2015/16 school year for additional training and support.

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Trans-Specific Care

How does Baldwin insure that its providers will use trans students’ name (which may be different than their legal or birth name)?

Baldwin’s forms allow students to specify the name they would like to be called by the provider on the initial intake form, regardless of what their legal name may be.

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Who can write letters of recommendation for trans students who are interested in accessing transition related care (which may include hormone replacement therapy and/or surgery)?

As of fall 2015, Counseling Service therapists are unable to provide letters of recommendation for trans students due to current staffing levels. However, contact the Counseling Service for off-campus referrals to providers who can write letters of recommendations, as well as on-campus support or you as you navigate the process. In addition, Counseling is working towards having its therapists be able to provide letters of recommendations, and is aiming to provide this service to students as soon as it is feasible.

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What kind of documentation is needed to start hormone replacement therapy? Who can provide it?

A letter of recommendation from a qualified mental health professional with the appropriate background is what you need to start hormone replacement therapy. Counseling Service therapists can refer you to local providers who can write these letters of recommendation.

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What are the steps for a trans student seeking transition-related surgery in New York? What documentation do they need and what kind of providers do they need?

The steps vary depending on the kind of transition-related surgery students are seeking. For breast/chest surgery, one letter of recommendation is required from a mental health professional. For genital surgery, two letters of recommendations from mental health professionals that have assessed the patient separately, are required. For both kinds of surgeries, the mental health professionals will also need to assess the patient’s personal and treatment history, progress, and eligibility.

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What transition-related care does Baldwin Health Service provide?

Baldwin can administer hormones to students, as long as the student has a letter of recommendation that prescribes the hormones.

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