Thursday, December 4, 2008

Celebrating Diversity, and Safety

Amid concerns that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) students have faced harassment on campus, hundreds of students at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs (UCCS) attended the "Safety is a Human Right" rally yesterday.

The diverse gathering is described as "historic" by the Colorado Springs Gazette, in that as one faculty member commented, "There isn't a history of peaceful speak-outs here, especially that have included blacks, Latinos, Native Americans, Asians and gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgenders."

Ayden Merino, a gay freshman and one of the organizers said he's experienced gay bashing and that many of his peers have, too. "We're saying as a community: ‘We're not going to tolerate it,'" he said.

Earlier this year there was a controversy on campus when student body president David Williams declined to sign off on a funding request for a National Coming Out Day observance in October, citing his "personal convictions."

There is currently a petition to have Williams recalled. In the meantime, students at UCCS remain hopeful about creating change. Nancy-Jo Morris, who leads a support group called Peak Area Gender Expression, challenged rally-goers: "You don't have to love me but I do expect you to respect me."

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