LGBTQ ‘Safe at City’ Panel

Photo Credit: Abel Cortez

Kayleia Southard talks about her experiences as a member of the LGBTQ community.

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Troy Pope, Rampage Reporter
May 1, 2012
Filed under News

Fresno City College students and faculty came together in the student lounge to discuss ways to make campus a safer place for our LGBTQ population on April 25.

“We marinade in a homophobic society,” said communications instructor and host, Jerry Thurston.

Panelist Kayleia Southard, who is in her fifth semester at FCC, said that the current climate on campus encourages a “closeted mentality.”

Southard spoke about her experience of being taunted by fellow students simply for being at the Diversity Club booth at a Club Rush. She was taunted just for standing with a group of people, regardless of the fact they had no knowledge of her sexual orientation.

“Tolerance isn’t good enough,” Thurston said. He spoke about how tolerance is a blanket word that doesn’t mean what people might intend, instead of just tolerating somebody, people should learn to accept them.

Southard went to a school that claimed to be “gay friendly,” but it was just down the street from a Christian school that allegedly fire-bombed their dorms on several occasions. After they cleaned up the mess, they would make a donation to the Christian school in hopes that it would delay another attack.

The panel made, and took, some suggestions on how to make the LGBTQ population more comfortable. “Change your greetings,” Southard said. “Don’t ask someone ‘do you have a boyfriend,’ and ask them ‘are you seeing someone’ instead.”

One student suggested that LGBTQ students go to different schools than heterosexual students. Thurston was quick to point out that the “separate but equal” school system has historically not been effective in stopping prejudice.

One of the things the panel suggested was to make sure and report any anti-gay violence witnessed on campus; campus police cannot do anything unless they are made aware.

“Challenge homophobic remarks if you feel safe to do so,” Thurston said. Some students might hear these negative comments, and if no one speaks up about it, they might think that FCC isn’t a safe place and not come back for another semester.

Thurston and the Diversity Club are working to make all of FCC a safe zone for LGBTQ students, and want these students to know that just because a person is heterosexual, that doesn’t mean they won’t support you.

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