By Jessica Lau
Last month, members of York College’s Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Queer (LGBTQ) club held a protest to advocate for gender neutral bathrooms and to raise awareness about bias experienced by club members on campus.
Six members of the club held up signs in the Atrium on Sept. 29 that read, “Laughing at LGBTQ as jokes is an act of violence.” Several Public Safety officers monitored the protest. The club is called SAGA, which stands for Sexuality and Gender Acceptance. Some of the members said they have been made fun of, called names and had a hard time with some faculty, staff and students.
Club Co-Presidents D. Weatherly and Trenton Taylor, Club Secretary Krystal Thomas, Treasurer David Tobo and member Jayleen Rosario have been fighting for gender neutral bathrooms since last year..
Members have complained that lack of awareness on campus causes them to feel emotionally disturbed, for example when employees in the registrar’s office refuse to acknowledge their preferences in gender or pronoun.
“I definitely feeling like SAGA was just a token for York to look “LGBT accepting” when in reality, there’s so little being done to help,” said Weatherly. “Whenever our former club president handed in work earlier than deadlines, the school would make him run in all sort of decisions because of things “going wrong.”
She also pointed out that both CUNY and York College’s Mission Statements claim that diversity is important to the college.
Several CUNY campuses already have gender-neutral bathrooms, including Hunter College, John Jay and the Graduate Center.
Vincent Barney, the Associate Dean of Student Development and serves on the college’s LGBTQ Task Force, held a recent conference with the SAGA members to hear their grievances and update them on the progress the college is making. He said the administration’s goal is to have one gender-neutral bathroom in one building as soon as the location and funding resources are finalized..
SAGA members said they also voiced concerns about the knowledge of LGBTQ vocabulary for both students and professors, and Banrey said that there is a workshop for professors scheduled for the spring to address the issue. The members suggested there should be seminars to inform students and professors more about LGBTQ information.
Banrey also suggested that the task force should hold an event to celebrate LGBTQ culture in November before the school semester is over. Valeria Astudillo, the new club council president, expressed her interest in working with all the clubs this new school year.
“This year we’ve decided to work with York’s LGBTQ Task Group, the first meeting seemed promising,” said SAGA Co-President Weatherly. “We currently scheduled a meeting with Alicia Franqui and we are waiting to discuss LGBTQ issues and what we can do to move forward.”