By MICAH SMITH, Ranger Reporter:
Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender college students are twice as likely to drop out as heterosexual cisgender students, according to the Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) Association of New York City.
This deterrent from academic success is often attributed to the high levels of harassment faced by the LGBT community.
Two-thirds of LGBT students have reported being emotionally, verbally or physically harassed in school.
Despite the often discouraging statistics about LGBT students in college, a new club on campus seeks to provide guidance and acceptance.
AC’s LGBTQ Student Association was founded this September by theater major Alastair Ramirez, who also helped established Tascosa High School’s LGBT Alliance.
The club is sponsored by fine arts adviser, Ruth De Anda. “Alastair and I have been working on this for about a year,” De Anda said.
The club had its first meeting at noon, Sept. 28 in the Oak Room on the second floor of the Badger Den. The LGBTQSA members plan to meet the third Wednesday of every month.
“I think that Amarillo College having LGBTQSA shows that we are diverse and understanding. It also lets students know this is an accepting campus and a safe place. You can be yourself here,” Ramirez said.
This is the first club of its kind at AC. A statistic from the Human Rights Campaign states that 64 percent of LGBT students are “out” to their classmates. With on-campus organizations such as LGBTQSA, students that face sexuality and gender issues can find a network of safety and comfort to be themselves.
“People don’t take me seriously, because I’m not straight,” said Taylor Hanson, an education major. “They don’t understand the struggles I go through on a daily basis. LGBTQSA is like having a support group on campus. Having a straight counselor isn’t the same as having a group of people that can relate to what you’re actually going through.”
While society is moving in a more progressive direction when it comes to LGBT rights and acceptance, there are still numerous issues for LGBT students, said Ramirez.
“LGBT still face problems today. Sexual assault, discrimination and a lack of gender neutral bathrooms to name a few.”
He added that having basic citizen rights and gender neutral bathrooms doesn’t automatically make life easier.
The LGBTQSA serves as an accepting community and a means of education about the LGBT community, Ramirez said.
“My goal with this club is to help provide the comfort I got from coming out to others and to let people know that there are other people like them. I want to build a safe place and also build a sense of community,” said Ramirez. “I’d like to inspire other people to fight for this community. There is still so much to do.”