NEWS– In the world today, there is still prejudice and judgment passed on the LGBT community. Gicorey Keys, student involvement coordinator, has expanded this year’s Pride Week on the UNG Oconee Campus, noting that there are still issues that plague LGBT members. “I recently had someone come out to their mother and father,” Keys said. “They told her that she was going through a phase and that she couldn’t be gay.”
The discussion, held Oct. 6, kicked off the first day of Pride Week. Around twenty five students showed up to broach the topic of what it means, legally now, to be gay in America. The Office of Student Involvement and the Gay Straight Alliance started off the conversation with a Ted Talk featuring Nadine Smith, a LGBT community rights activist.
“The form that the government provides us to fill out at tax time requires under penalty of perjury that we identify our marital status,” Smith said. “But if I check that box as married […] the government says that I can face penalty.”
Students and youth LGBT community members now have the right to legally marry in any state they choose. Smith and her spouse, who married in a state that allowed same sex couples to marry, were breaking the law in the eyes of the United States government. This is an issue that young people will never have to face. However, the Supreme Court’s decision on same sex marriage is only a stepping stone in the fight to end LGBT prejudice.
Charlie Davis, a sophomore at UNG, attended both days of Pride Week. Davis laughed at the broad range of topics brought up during the discussion the day prior. “Every time I hear more about the gay marriage issue, I find out more about how it is infringed upon,” Davis said. “It’s getting better, after the Supreme Court’s decision, but it breaks my heart to know it still happens.”
UNG Oconee’s Gay Straight Alliance and Office of Student Involvement strive to offer an open environment to talk to students and have a network for any student facing discrimination.
“We gained more participation this year than there was last year,” Keys said. “I hope to have and strive to have an entire week centered on pride.”
Pride Week continued on a less political note, with games and prizes on Oct. 7, as students were able to get to know other students and faculty members involved in the LGBT community here on the Oconee campus. Mark Wang, a freshman and supporter of all rights, found it refreshing to know that such a community exist on a small commuter campus.
“It’s nice to know that no matter what you face, however hard it is,” Wang said, “that there is an open arms approach for LGBT members on this campus.”
Faculty and staff held a workshop Fri. Oct. 9, on how to approach topics that may come up in a student’s life, like that of the student Keys talked about, and how we as a community can help this person even if it’s only a few hours out of their day a week.