LGBT News in Academia: Morehouse Offers new course on LGBTQ history and culture

February 7, 2013 § Leave a comment

I recently read an article written by Marcus Lee, a second year sociology major at Morehouse College, one of the most prestigious historically black colleges and universities (HBCU) in the country. The article read “Morehouse offers LGBTQ course.” My eyes lit up with surprise while my jaw dropped to show my disbelief. My head instantly was filled with questions.

Later on, I saw a news segment on 11 Alive News that explained this story more in depth. This student, being a sociology major, was very observant about the culture of Morehouse and the normal relations between the male students. He noticed that there was much brotherly love amongst the students, but as soon as the issue or topic pertaining to the LGBTQ community arose, the atmosphere quickly shifted from being amiable to uncomfortable. Morehouse does have a history of not being the most inclusive when it comes to homosexuality and gender nonconformity. In 2002 a Morehouse was the center of controversy for a hate crime when a student who was profiled as gay was attacked and beaten by another student. And just last year, Morehouse instituted a new policy that disallowed any student from wearing non-male gender conforming articles of clothing and accessories. I remember discussing this topic with my friends, some who attended Morehouse, to see how they felt about this new policy. It was a bit tricky to reconcile my belief that we should exhibit freedom of expression as United States citizens, but Morehouse is a private institution, and students must sign a contract to adhere to their policies before being formally accepted by the institution. One of my friends jokingly stated “Maybe some of them should transfer to Spelman!”

So Morehouse allowing this course to be taught is MAJOR progress towards acceptance, tolerance, and inclusivity of the LGBTQ community.  The course is being taught by an alumnus of the school, who is now a professor at Yale University, via Skype. In other news, Morehouse has a new homosexual-heterosexual alliance/student advocacy organization in existence called Morehouse SafeSpace. I personally have to say that given Morehouse’s history, I am very proud to see these major milestones towards acceptance and inclusivity. Although Georgia Tech has been working to promote acceptance, tolerance, and inclusivity of all persons regardless of race, gender, gender-identity, religious preference, political affiliation, and sexual orientation, there has never been an LGBTQ course taught at this institution. I hope that one day Georgia Tech will offer this course, and that this inspirational story will produce a ripple effect to all other colleges and universities across the nation.

– Alfonza L.

Georgia Tech Rising

February 4, 2013 § Leave a comment

Each year, thousands of women across the country rally together for the Vagina Monologues to speak out against sexual violence. This year we join together for One Billion Rising–a movement in which women “WALK OUT, DANCE, RISE UP, and DEMAND an end to this violence.”

one-billion-risingSo how can you get involved? Easy! Since this movement is worldwide, there are several events being held. All you have to do is log on to onebillionrising.org and check for local V-Day events near you. They will all be taking place on February 14th, 2013–V-Day’s 15th anniversary. Our local rising, “One Billion Rising Atlanta,” will take place on the steps of the capitol at 10 am. There we plan on supporting the Georgia Women for Change 2013 legislative agenda: End Violence Against Women and Girls. At 12 pm, there will be a flash mob on Peachtree Street Downtown. Think you might want to join?  Join the Facebook group at www.onebillionatlanta.com to find out when rehearsals will be and where the flash mob will be located. You can learn the dance moves by logging in to http://onebillionrising.org/blog/entry/learn-the-steps-to-break-the-chain

In addition to V-Day, the Georgia Tech Women’s Resource center will be rallying against violence as they show their production of Eve Ensler’s The Vagina Monologues on March 29th and March 30th at the Academy of Medicine.  All of the funds raised on these nights will be donated to Tapestri Inc., a local non-profit agency that focuses on preventing sexual and domestic violence and exploitation through advocacy, education, and community organizing.

It is not to late to join the cause! Visit http://www.vday.org to find out how you can get involved and join the fight to eliminate violence against women!

– Jennifer C.

3rd Annual MLK Day of Service

January 28, 2013 § Leave a comment

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MLK Day of service is a day to reflect on the life, legacy, and teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The impact that he created for generations to come in the fight for civil rights will forever reverberate in our hearts and minds. While many of us participated in other activities like watching the annual MLK commemoration service at Ebenezer Baptist Church or watching the inauguration of America’s first African-American Commander in Chief, others like myself went out to volunteer in our local communities. I went to volunteer at the Center for the Pan-Asian Community Services(CPACS).

The day started out with a small presentation from the MLK Planning Committee. This was a great way to reflect on how Dr. King has personally impacted our lives. Next we did a short networking activity. After that, we headed out with our groups to volunteer!  So I thought that I would be doing in-door volunteer work (i.e. carpet cleaning), but instead I got a chance to plant trees. This was one of the few days that I allowed myself to do free manual labor, but I had a great time. I got a chance to meet new people and to make a different in my community. I even got a chance to hear some of the inauguration on the bus back to Georgia Tech!

As I reflect back on that day, I will always see MLK Day as a day ON and not a day OFF.   What I loved about that day was seeing the faces of so many undergraduate students. I saw people from all different ethnic backgrounds, skin colors, heights, classes, socioeconomic statuses, etc. Seeing these students is living proof that without the work of activists like Dr. King, these students and myself would not be able to attend such a diverse school like Georgia Tech. After 52 years of the matriculation of African-American students into Georgia Tech, and after 51 years of the integration of women, Georgia Tech continues to strive for excellence, inclusion, and diversity, all of the values that Dr. King himself believed in.

2013 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Student Annual Celebration – A Reflection of Issues

January 21, 2013 § Leave a comment

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2013 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Student Celebration

I volunteered to be the Student Chair of the 3rd MLK Student Celebration Annual Student Celebration. I was in charge of recruiting the student performers, emailing the student representatives to participate in the CandleLight Vigil ceremony, editing the program, creating the script, contacting Mr. and Mrs. Georgia Tech, deciding what food to use for the reception, deciding what decorations would best suit this occasion, and act as a “producer” for the event. It was a lot.

I got a chance to hear from student speakers and guest performances, including the Nu Mu chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha, God’s Influence Flowing Through Every Disciple (G.I.F.T.E.D) gospel choir, my personal friend Shreya Ahuja, and the fabulous Dean Stephanie Ray, who performed a dramatic monologue of Coretta Scott King’s first moments after finding out her husband was assassinated.

What I personally loved most is the inspiring student speakers. There was a common theme in all of the speeches that as a society, America has come a long way in the fight for equality and civil liberties for all, but we still have a long way to go, thus the theme for the event was themed “The Dream and the Journey Continue.” One issue that was mentioned was the inequality and gender discrimination that women still face. Women are still earning 77 cents less than her equal male counterpart. The good news is that our current president is working with Congress to establish legislation that seeks to eliminate gender inequality.

Another issue that was mentioned in one of the student speeches was discrimination based on sexual orientation. While it is still a hot-button issue in today’s society, studies show that more and more Americans are favoring same-sex marriage by small margins. This is due largely in part of more and more LGBT Americans coming out to family and friends and new marriage equality laws being slowly passed in state legislatures.

Of course, poverty is always an issue. Many of us can empathize with low-income, lower-class and middle class families. Poverty may be an issue that may never go away, but I became inspired to help the homeless man on the street corner just by giving him something to eat.

In summary, change does not happen overnight. Rome wasn’t built in a day, right? So change for equality will take time as well, but that does not mean that we should sit back and act ambivalent. It was once said, “If you don’t stand for something, then you will fall for anything.” I challenge myself to make my voice heard louder on more issues we as Americans face today, whether it be gender inequality, sexual orientation, poverty, or ambivalence. I just hope that Dr. King himself would be proud of my efforts. Dr. King told his wife “Coretta, don’t tell people that I graduated from Morehouse College. Don’t tell people that I got my Master’s degree from Boston College. Don’t tell people about my Nobel Peace Prize or my various other awards. Instead, tell people that I tried to feed the hungry. Tell people that I tried to clothed the naked. Tell people that I was a drum major for justice, and tell people that I tried to help somebody!!”

– Alfonza L.

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