By Bintia Drame
The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community at York College wants to bridge the gap between their members and their heterosexual colleagues.
October is LGBT awareness month, and on Oct. 22 The Straight and Gay Alliance (SAGA) in York College hosted an event where all students were invited to the atrium during club hours to enjoy music, food, and games. To show support for LGBT students, SAGA members asked everyone to show their LGBT spirit by wearing the color purple on this day. The group celebrated their annual “National Coming Out Day” earlier in October, marking the 27th anniversary of the National March for the Gays and Lesbian Rights.
Scott Sheidlower, the SAGA faculty advisor at York, said the goal of the Straight and Gay Alliance is to make the people who are either lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, be themselves and feel comfortable on the campus.
“Come out to people you feel safe, you should not have to live a life where you’re hidden,” said Sheidlower. “That’s really wrong, you need to be part of the world.”
In the efforts to create a safe haven for the LGBT community at the college, he encourages the LGBT students to come out to someone they trust and join York College’s already diverse environment.
Terrence Wolf, 25, a Geology major and member of SAGA, said an event like this is a way for the LGBT group to be comfortable on campus and also to get others informed.
“You get the club out there and educate a few people, we have a few trivia games so hopefully that will get the ball rolling,” said Wolf. “It just shows people that their friends and loved ones are also part of this community, they just don’t realize it yet.”
While Sheidlower emphasized that SAGA is not a campus club that is trying to recruit anyone, he said that clubs are also options for anyone either straight or gay to be a part of.
A member of the Straight and Gay Alliance talked about his efforts to making the transgender students feel comfortable and safer in the college.
“I spoke in front of Student Government in an effort to get gender-neutral bathrooms for specifically the trans community,” said Wolf. “In the school, there’s none where they could feel safe because the bathrooms either say ‘man’ or ‘woman’ and they are neither.”
Although, Wolf said they put in the request for these bathrooms last year, the student also talked to some faculty members this year for a progress report.
In contrast, not all students are buying the idea of having bathrooms especially for the transgender students. A senator on the Student Government Association, Gabriela Torres, had some concerns regarding the request.
“In that meeting, they stated that they want to have unisex bathrooms, but I feel like that would make complications,” said Torres. “There’s a reason why we have male and female bathrooms.”
Biology major Anthony D. White II said some students who may have feared coming out should not be anymore.
“Some do fear coming out because of religious beliefs, or family traditional values, some are grateful that someone else stepped up and was their voice,” said White. “Now they can stand up on their own and be happy with who they are, they can take that leap of bravery and be like ‘this is who I am.’”