By Shannon Reardon
“You have huge power being who you are, as a straight person, by helping to support people as they come out,” said LGBT activist Shane Windmeyer to an auditorium of DCCC students on Feb. 25.
Windmeyer, founder of Campus Pride and best-selling author of “The Advocate College Guide for LGBT Students,” came to Marple campus to speak to students about creating safer and more diverse campuses.
“We have all these statistics for people of color graduating, females graduating, but we don’t have anything on the LGBT people,” Windmeyer said. “We have no idea what happens to them, no way of tracking their success.”
Furthermore, more than half of LGBT students and faculty do not feel safe enough to come out, Windmeyer told students.
Data collected by Campus Pride, an organization that gives students, colleges, and universities the resources to make the campuses more LGBT friendly, found that 23 percent of LGB students and 40 percent of trans* are subjected to harassment.
This statistic was not just for students, but for faculty as well. According to Campus Pride, 13 percent of LGB and 43 percent of trans faculty and students fear for their safety.
James DuBois, 20, an applied science major, said that he found the workshop to be interesting. “I wasn’t sure what to expect going in, but I thought that [Windmeyer] did a good job of keeping the atmosphere more light-hearted and entertaining,” he said.
Throughout the workshop Windmeyer implored students to go home and do some research on the LGBT community and prominent leaders, such as Sylvia Rivera and Marsha Johnson.
Windmeyer also gave students the opportunity to answer questions such as: What color is the gay flag, what is the geometric shape that represents the LGBT community? What is the scale that is used to determine sexuality and who was researcher that created it? [And] can you name celebrities that are homosexual?
Every student was able to answer that the color of the flag is rainbow, but Windmeyer elaborated further, telling
students that when the rainbow flag was beingdesigneditoriginallyalsocontained a fuchsia and teal color as well.
Only one student in the audience was able to answer the question about shapes, saying that it was a triangle.
Then Windmeyer explained that pink triangles were not only worn by homosexual prisoners in Nazi concentration camps, but were also used by Act Up, an AIDS organization, in the 80’s and 90’s.
Alfred Kinsey, a biologist and psychologist who founded the Institute for Sex Research at Indiana University, created a scale known as the Kinsey Scale in 1948 to rank individuals on their sexuality. Before being told this fact, students admitted that they did not know the answer.
After students were asked about the Kinsey Scale, they were asked to name gay celebrities.
Names such as Miley Cyrus, Neil Patrick Harrison, Raven Symone, Frank Ocean, Jim Parsons, Ellen Degeneres and Portia de Rossi were suggested.
Windmeyer ended the workshop by telling students: “You don’t have to march in a parade; you can if you want to. You
Shane Windmeyer gives students statistics about homophobic harassment, such as 23 percent of LGB students and 40 percent of trans students get harassed.
Photo by Shannon Reardon
don’t have to wear the rainbow flag; you can if you want to. You just have to be kind and give someone a hug.”
*“Trans” refers to both transgendered and transexual