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LMC should focus more on the LGBTQ+ community

Teresa Gaines, tgaines@lmcexperience.com

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Los Medanos College has prided itself on being a supportive and inclusive atmosphere for its LGBTQ+ students. And it should.

We have an ALLIES club specifically run by and for the LGBTQ+ students on campus. We have an out gay governing board member. We have a cohort of teachers in the process of creating an “Out List” after having thrown “The Big Gay Mixer” to bring the community together. We have a president who has promised two gender neutral bathrooms for the new College Complex remodel (in addition to the bathroom already designated as gender neutral in the science building). We will soon be one of the first community colleges in the state, if not country, to offer an LGBTQ+ Studies/Social Justice degree.

We have so much to pride ourselves on. This school has done the work to include those who have historically been marginalized. The teachers, the administration, they are all happy and eager to help in any way that they can.

The only problem lies with the students that those working for the school are passionately trying so hard to empower and include.

Talk to any LGBTQ+ identified student and you are bound to hear at least one improvement that can be made on campus regarding the community. The most common complaint: “Where is the community?”

The student run ALLIES club, as mentioned before, has not met since last semester. And if one were to attend a meeting, you’d find that the attendance is shockingly low. Students are simply not showing up for each other. Maybe they have classes at that time or maybe they simply don’t care.

You’d think that the students who really want a club, to create a community, would seek out those in charge and figure out a regular time to meet that works for most members. And if that is not possible, they’d coordinate events or socials and do a small amount of outreach work to pull the LGBTQ+ students from the woodwork.

Instead, there is a Facebook group for the ALLIES club. As of the spring semester, no club is meeting for LGBTQ+ students to connect with each other on campus. Where do you go to meet other LGBTQ+ students? Maybe the few queer themed classes that are offered, such as LGBT Literature, taught by Liz Green? But that’s a lot of extra time and work to take on just to make some friends.

The only “community” offered to an LGBTQ+ student are individual teachers. And one shouldn’t downplay the fact that the “Out List” being created by teachers and soon to appear on the LMC website is a very progressive and a noble act.

“I’ve had students come to my office hours after Trump got elected. I had a student who needed to process. He outed himself in class as a gay man and came to my office and felt safe to talk to me about his fears as a gay man in Trump’s America. I was really grateful to provide that space for him,” said Green, who gladly welcomes students to take advantage of her out status and seek her support.

But as helpful as seeking individual support may be, students who may not feel comfortable one-on-one or simply want to hang out with other LGBTQ+ identified people are out of luck at LMC.

But so what, right? Maybe next semester the ALLIES club will be better prepared to hold a space for students. Or maybe the students have spoken and this really isn’t important to them.

If so, those students should take a look back at the history of the LGBTQ+ people of America.

What is most important to the preservation of the LGBTQ+ community? What was it that allowed it to blossom in the face of oppression? What brought people together when their identities were erased from the White House website after decades of fighting to be recognized by their own government?

Community. What preserved LGBTQ+ identifying people was the fact that they established a community that grew and continues to grow today. They produced safe spaces first in their hometowns, and then spread the message of acceptance and love across the country to those who weren’t feeling a sense of it in their own lives. Just like the civil rights movement of black Americans, they went from being punished by their own government for their identity, to gaining rights and being able to celebrate who they are.

Where is the preservation of the LGBTQ+ student community at LMC? The teachers are doing their part. ALLIES somewhat tried to be a presence on campus but no students showed up to be a part of the community and help hold a safe space for their peers.

Maybe our LGBTQ+ student body has taken progress for granted. Maybe we’ve become lazy or forgotten just how important it is to take up space and provide a support system to those who may not be as lucky as us who can afford to take it for granted.

If we don’t want the progress to plateau, as we know it shouldn’t (considering the country’s new policy of erasing our identities), if students don’t want the LMC administration to stop caring about us, then we have to show we care about us too. Community is the answer to the question, “what now?”

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1 Comment

One Response to “LMC should focus more on the LGBTQ+ community”

  1. Jeffrey M. Matthews on May 18th, 2017 9:19 am

    As always, thank-you for your excellent coverage of LGBTQ+ issues at LMC, Teresa. As the faculty adviser of ALLIES for the past 25 years (OMG!) I can tell you that the problem you describe of student apathy about joining clubs is nothing new. Some semesters the club thrives, while sometimes 3 or 4 semesters may go by without an active club. I’ve learned not to stress over this. As they say, you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make them drink. So I figure the best course of action is to just be sure there’s a very visible trough of nice fresh water available at all times. In the meantime, LMC is in a better place than ever for LGBTQ+ students, with new courses and an A.A. Degree in the pipeline. I urge ALL students to take these courses (they count for G.E.!) to learn more about the past, present, and future of LGBTQ people. Those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it!

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LMC should focus more on the LGBTQ+ community