OPINION: Out and closeted students deserve more safe spaces

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PHOTO COURTESY OF SHARON MCCUTCHEON | PEXELS
By John Michael Guerrero

“Who are you?”

That question continues to plague various people’s minds, especially when discussing gender identity.

It is frustrating how difficult it is to be open and proud of who I am for someone who continues to explore their identity.

On many occasions, I try to talk to others about gender identity, and it becomes highly politicized or even put into a religious context.

Everyone has the right to think, believe and say their own truth, but grouping the issues of the LGBTQIA2+ community into a religious or political lens is disgusting.

With Pride month right around the corner, I realized how the issues surrounding gender identity are made more complicated for closeted people.

Many have greatly stigmatized June for its association with the LGBTQIA2+ community.

As sad as it is, prejudice against queer people is still an ongoing issue, including hate crimes against transgender people, suicide among queer teens and young adults, discriminatory healthcare and lack of inclusive education.

People should interrogate themselves on why they continue to perpetuate cycles of discrimination.

Although Riverside City College finally has a space for LGBTQIA2+ students, it still feels as if there is not enough done to inform and raise awareness about intersectionality.

From personal experience, I continue to hide my own identity because of the fear of being persecuted, bullied and even physically harmed.

I tried to open up in high school and further discover who I was, but it only led to persecution and bullying.

There are various communities and cultures to explore at RCC. When it comes to queer identity, however, very few are knowledgeable on the topic outside of surface-level information.

College administration should do more to help create a welcoming and safe environment for staff and faculty within the LGBTQIA2+ community.

Many are misgendered and looked down on. A place that prides itself in the community should foster safer and more inclusive environments.

ALLY training should be mandatory for faculty and staff to help them better connect with and respect those part of the LGBTQIA2+ community.

It is equally as important for all students to feel safe and welcomed as it is to create an environment where anyone can grow and discover more about themselves.

I hope that people from the queer community of color, of Indigenous heritage, Asian and Pacific Islander heritage, immigrant families, and so on will finally be treated as equals. As someone who has not come out yet, I hope as equals, it will be not only in an educational setting but in every aspect of life as well.

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