By Markus Mathews
Riverside City College students and faculty are looking to expand the available resources for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning, Asexual and Intersex+ community here on campus.
While the Gender-Sexuality Awareness Club and some ALLY faculty members are taking steps to make sure that RCC is providing support for students who are members of this community, many believe that more can be done.
RCC GSA club member Ryan Valadez said that LGBTQ support is important to him because it makes him feel less alone. Unfortunately, according to Valadez, many people are unaware of the resources that are available to the LGBTQ community.
“To be honest, there is not much representation,” Valadez said. “Many people don’t even know of the resources that are available to the LGBTQ community or that there is … a presence on campus.”
A lack of advertising or resources may be the reason as to why many students have lack of knowledge about the programs RCC offers. This keeps those who may already feel underrepresented from finding a community where they may feel that they belong.
“The reason why I’m involved in advocating and organizing the LGBTQ community on the RCC campus is because … as a transgender male, … I see that there is an extreme disparity between how the LGBTQ community is represented and given resources compared to other identity groups,” Associated Students of Riverside City College (ASRCC) Student Senator Asher Alexander A.C. Jones said.
Jones explained that as a senator, he can vote for or against policies that he believe will either help or hinder not just LGBTQ students but marginalized, underrepresented students who have limited resources at RCC.
Last month ASRCC passed a resolution that would permit students to change their name and gender on unofficial school documents such as student identification cards. This would allow for both LGBTQ and international students to be identified by their preferred name which could provide a sense of comfort that may not always be awarded to them.
“I feel like it would be great if one day RCC was on the list of LGBT-friendly colleges and universities,” Associate Dean of Academic Support Debbie Whitaker-Meneses said.
Whitaker-Meneses is the advisor of the faculty LGBT support program, ALLY. ALLY is a group for members of the RCC staff that are willing to provide a listening ear and a safe space for anyone struggling with sexual orientation or gender identity issues. Any staff member displaying the ALLY placard has completed training and is committed to providing a safe zone for anyone to speak freely.
“We would love to do more but we’re all so busy that it’s difficult to find time to meet regularly,” Whitaker-Meneses said.
While the RCC faculty program gives staff members a way to show support, there are steps that students can take as well to become an ally to the LGBTQ community.
“A big thing that everyone can do to show support and be a good ally is by learning the terminology for the community,” Valadez said. “There is more than just gay, lesbian and queer.”
Valadez discussed the spectrum of terms ranging from asexual to pansexual to bi-romantic. Valadez said there is terminology that helps members of the community feel welcomed and accepted.
“Not everyone is … born (with) the gender they identify as,” Valadez said. “Pronouns help them feel more welcome.”
GSA’s Pride Day is scheduled to take place Nov. 17 from 12:00 to 2:00 p.m. on the steps of the MLK building. The event will feature drag performers and a space for those who identify as LGBTQ to interact with members of GSA and learn more about the club.
Jones urged students to attend the GSA Club meetings that are held every Thursdays from 12:50-1:50 p.m. in the Quad, room 103.
“Just listen to what is being said and interact when moved to do so,” Jones said.