Mason graduate student helps create LGBTQIA community through mentoring program

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Dan Kingsley. Photo provided

Dan Kingsley, a graduate professional assistant in George Mason University’s LBGTQ+ Resources Center, helps to create community through the center’s peer mentoring program. The program links up lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and ally-identified first-year students with mentors to help promote their personal and academic success, health, and well-being. Kingsley also helps facilitate Identity Nights in which people of similar identities can connect.

“I like to call it a built-in buddy system to help students and create spaces where we can foster community engagement,” said Kingsley, who is working on a master's in psychology concentrating in cognitive and behavioral neuroscience. “As someone who is at the intersection of being autistic and queer, I have sometimes not had the resources I need or spaces to meet other people with similar identities. I’m most proud when I hear about students finding the spaces we’ve created helpful.”

The LGBTQ+ Resources Center hosts monthly get-togethers for mentees. To start off the year, the center held a virtual murder mystery puzzle.

“That was a great group bonding activity,” Kingsley said. “They had so much fun with it.”

Kingsley also co-advises the Queer Student Leadership Council (QSLC) with Joshua Kinchen, director of the LGBTQ+ Resources Center.

“Dan has been an essential part of our staff team this year,” Kinchen said. “Dan’s thoughtfulness, instincts, and insights are all part of why we've enjoyed so much success on campus this year.”

Kingsley earned his undergraduate degree in psychology at the University of Northern Colorado. He picked Mason for his graduate studies because he wanted to work with Allison Jack, assistant professor of cognitive and behavioral neuroscience with a specialty in autism spectrum disorder in the Department of Psychology. Kingsley’s lab work is focused on biological sex and autism.

Kingsley, a transgender man, said that in his classes, “there are moments for me when I realize I am with people who don’t always know how to respect pronouns.”

Kingsley said that his work at the center gives him “community and comfort.”

“My position working with the resource center has me surrounded by people I know respect and understand me,” Kingsley said. “It’s a great group.”

LuLu Géza Kelemen, assistant director of the LGBTQ+ Resources Center said that “Dan has a particular skill for listening” and “has been a driving force behind some of our newer programs that are responsive to student needs and wants.”

“Dan embodies so much of what success can look like for LGBTQ+ students at Mason,” said Géza Kelemen, who is also an instructor in Women and Gender Studies.