BY MICHAEL BARRY
From Oct. 16 to Oct. 19, the SHU Gender and Sexuality Alliance (GSA) held a week of awareness, education, and celebration of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Questioning, or LBGTQ+, community.
“I believe that this week is a statement from the Gender and Sexuality Alliance and our allies about wanting to be visible and open while on our private, Catholic campus,” said senior Rachel Zacharczyk, Gender and Sexuality Alliance President.
The week’s activities featured guest speakers and performances promoting LGBTQ+ acceptance.
“Each event has a significance that continues a conversation about identity, inclusion, and understanding, that begs people to be respectfully curious. They can be curious about themselves and the differences of people they see around them,” said Zacharczyk.
The events covered a wide range of topics relating to gender information, sexuality acceptance, and overall awareness. On Monday, Oct. 16 in the Martire Theater, the GSA held the Stonewall Speakers, a non-profit organization based out of Guilford, CT, who eliminate hate and promote understanding through personal stories of being LGBTQ+.
The Stonewall volunteer speakers regularly address high schools, middle schools, colleges and universities, teacher’s groups, police departments, mental health facilities, religious groups, medical students and professionals, peer counselors, gay-straight alliance groups, military members, community organizations, and conferences.
As part of the colloquia series on campus, the Gender and Sexuality Alliance put together a panel of students and faculty who were willing to share their stories regarding their LGBTQ+ identity or acceptance on Wednesday, Oct. 18.
“Our ‘Unspoken Stories’ colloquium was a touching moment of reflection, giving students and faculty the opportunity to share their experiences as LGBTQ+ individuals,” said GSA Vice President Serginho Valcourt. “Many of the events of our solidarity week such as the Stonewall Speakers, Safe Zone Training, and Unspoken Stories offer a platform for those willing to give insight into the lives of those with diverse sexualities and gender identities,” said Valcourt.
As a part of LGBTQ+ solidarity week, information on the federal provision of Title IX was distributed. Introduced in 1972, Title IX is a civil rights law prohibiting discrimination in education programs and activities receiving federal funds. It was the first comprehensive federal law to prohibit sex discrimination against students and employees in these institutions.
“We want to encourage people to ask questions, address stigmas, and reflect on what it means to be an ally or LGBTQ+ identifying person on this campus,” said Sacred Heart’s Title IX coordinator Leonora Campbell. “My office, the office of Title IX, is a place of support and has the resources and cares about the students here. We want a hostility-free environment, and we want students to treat each other in a respectful and kind manner,” said Campbell.
The GSA and the office of Title IX will continue to team up and educate students on campus about respect through efforts like LGBTQ+ solidarity week.
“The students are the ones who are driven and motivated to make this week happen and to share the knowledge and information to the community,” said Campbell.