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Editorial: Happy birthday, LGBTQ Center

Recently, the University’s LGBTQ Center celebrated its 10th birthday. The center is honoring its achievements and the challenges it has overcome with a month-long celebration. As The Herald reported Monday (“LGBTQ Center celebrates 10th birthday with cake, reflection,” April 21), the anniversary celebration will include “a keynote speech by the writer and performer Scott Turner Schofield, film screenings, discussions, a dance and an exhibit displaying the history of LGBTQ life at Brown.” In light of this celebration, we would like to commemorate the huge strides that the LGBTQ Center has made for human rights both at Brown and in Rhode Island at large.

In recent years, Brown has been a trailblazer in offering LGBTQ students an open and tolerant community. The University made national news last year when it approved a transgender-specific health care plan. The University’s progressive stance mirrored a larger statewide and nationwide trend toward increasing gay rights. In fact, Rhode Island was the 10th state to legalize same-sex marriage last year before the Supreme Court struck down part of the Defense of Marriage Act last summer. Brown’s LGBTQ Center certainly has much to celebrate, including its own unique and trailblazing role in the fight for LGBTQ equality and opportunity.

The LGBTQ Center has proved a tremendous resource to the entire Brown community. Not only have its support services allowed hundreds of students who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer to feel safe, comfortable and happy at Brown, but the organization has also provided education and outreach services to the entire student body. The center has played a huge role in increasing tolerance and understanding on campus, and it also serves as a resource for straight students who may seek to be allies through, for example, supporting friends who come out of the closet.

While we celebrate the progress the LGBTQ Center has made and the struggles the center has overcome in its 10 years on campus, this 10-year anniversary also delineates more progress to come. Less than 30 years ago, a gay student was pressured by his resident advisers to move out of his room when a roommate’s parents were uncomfortable with their son having a gay roommate. Another spoke out on Commencement day in 1992 about what it was like to be different, to be gay, even at a socially liberal institution like Brown, only to be received by classmates standing and shouting against his words.

Indeed, Brown has come a long way, and we fully support the LGBTQ Center in its efforts to make Brown an even more inclusive and welcoming community, particularly for transgender students. For example, as The Herald reported, “the center will continue advocating for more University policies inclusive of transgender students, such as designating bathrooms as gender-neutral.” More generally, members of the organization feel that there is still work to be done to address LGBTQ issues on campus.

The LGBTQ Center has grown by leaps and bounds since its inception, expanding its physical presence, outreach capacities and student membership on campus. We are heartened to celebrate that the LGBTQ Center has been thriving on campus for a decade. We believe that celebrating this anniversary pays homage to the progressive and tolerant environment that the University should continue to strive to produce.

 

Editorials are written by The Herald’s editorial page board: its editors, Matt Brundage ’15 and Rachel Occhiogrosso ’14, and its members, Hannah Loewentheil ’14 and Thomas Nath ’16. Send comments to editorials@browndailyherald.com.



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