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The LGBTQ+ Community’s Acceptance on Campus

October is National LGBTQ+ History Month, which highlights the rich history of the LGBTQ+ community, as well as the prominent figures who have paved the way for the generations today. October was officially recognized as this history month in 1994 by Rodney Wilson. He believed it was important for a month to be dedicated to celebrating LGBTQ+ history. October 11 also marks National Coming Out Day, a day that shows support to those coming out and not holding back their true selves. Monmouth held a celebration on this day on the Student Center Patio to stand in solidarity with those in the community on campus. Student and faculty allies also gathered to show support. Along with tables, students could grab sandwich sliders and rainbow cookies to enjoy.

This year, the Intercultural Center (IC) collaborated with the Gender and Intersectionality Club, MU Pride Club, and Prevention Resource Network to make this one of the biggest National Coming Out Day celebrations Monmouth has ever seen.

Samantha Schubel, a representative of Prevention Resource Network, said, “Prevention is the most important thing! When it comes to STDs, HIV, substance abuse, a lot of prevention is harm reduction. We give people resources to protect themselves.”

Located in Asbury Park, this service helps those in the community have a greater access to resources. Not only do they offers these resources, their VNACJ LGBTQ+ Health Center is the first LGBTQ+ health center down at the Jersey Shore. Asbury Park is home to a proud and thriving LGBTQ+ community. They host Jersey Pride and ensure that health issues and access to care does not go unnoticed.

In order to create a safer Monmouth and more aware faculty, the Gender and Intersectionality Club just restarted this academic year. This club works closely with the University to ensure faculty is updated on terminology, pronouns, and issues within the LGBTQ+ community. Gi Diangelis, a junior anthropology student, said, “We’re trying to preach to the faculty more by having a pledge and an extended terminology list. People want to make the effort and we try to help everyone be happy.”
In order to reach a broader audience, inclusion is extremely important. Their mission is to make every classroom inclusive and a safe space.

Melissa Alvare, Professor of Sociology, Ph.D, is the advisor to the Gender and Intersectionality Club. She works closely with faculty on updated terminology along with creating a pledge for faculty to sign. This pledge is for those who want to create a safe, welcoming, and inclusive environment for those in the LGBTQ+ community.

Alvare expressed, “We’re hoping we can help faculty get a list of best practices to make their classrooms more inclusive. That includes helping faculty understand important terminology, the significance of pronouns, and taking the extra steps to help our students feel accepted.”
She continued, “We want a visual document that faculty are taking the steps and committing to our faculty pledge.”

MU Pride is a student-ran club. They work closely with the Gender and Intersectionality Club, but are more student driven and focused. They create a welcoming environment for students to come together with others to host fun events, talk about issues within the community, and make connections with those who share similar stories.

Sarah George, a junior mathematics student and President of MU Pride Club, and member of the Gender and Intersectionality Club, said, “This is a very supportive event and everyone deserves to come out on their own timeline. It’s a liberating feeling if they chose to do so. I came out to my dad exactly a year ago and it was both freeing and anxiety inducing.”

The IC is on campus for all types of students. This place may help those feel like they belong. George continued, “Having a space for queer students on campus is extremely important. The IC is a wonderful place even if you do not feel like you belong, there are always safe and welcoming people there. This event shows that we are safe to come to.”

Being a part of the LGBTQ+ community has shown me how much pride this community has, but also the hardships it took for us to be accepted. I am glad Monmouth takes the initiative to hold these events and educate themselves on our growing community. Having professors that are also apart of or allied with the community also helps those who may not feel accepted by other people in their lives. To be able to put on this celebration is a huge step in the right direction.

The IC is located in Magill Commons, to the left of the Dining Hall. The common space is open from 8 a.m. to midnight, seven days a week. If any student is looking to talk to professional staff, they are available 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday