By Kamryn Martell
Adviser of the Trans* Alliance Jess Love is making great strides as of late.
Trans* Alliance is a club on campus that helps students who identify as transgender talk about their experiences.
“It’s a really exciting time right now. I am a part of a group that is putting together a proposal that we are gonna present to the chancellor and other influential people on campus,” Love said.
Love is presenting a proposal about opening a Pride center for students in the LGBTQ+ community.
LGBTQ+ stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer/questioning. There are a few clubs on campus already for students in the community. Clubs like Trans* Alliance and Gay-Straight Alliance are some examples. However, some students feel a center would be beneficial for them in the long run.
The center can also give students the resources they need for a better learning environment at school.
“The clubs are really important to help us know that we’re not alone and help us make connections with other LGBTQ+ folks, but a center for the community would be great,” said one student.
Since Santa Clarita is considered a more conservative area, the center at COC would bring students a place with more inclusivity.
Other schools like California State University, Northridge have that feeling of inclusivity and equity with their center.
“The Pride Center is a welcoming space for LGBTQIA+ students to connect with each other, learn about the community, and get connected to resources,” said Sarina Loeb, manager at CSUN’s Pride Center. “Allies are welcome at the Pride Center as well.”
With their center being open, it gives transgender students, for example the chance to be welcomed in their community. When Love discusses the proposal, they bring up the points of inclusivity for all students.
“To bring a multi-cultural and inclusion center to campus…would have dedicated time, space, and staff to help support historically the most marginalized people on college campuses,” said Love.
With College of the Canyons’ ever-growing, diverse population on campus, the center will help them feel supported.
“We foster a climate characterized by civility, collegiality, and acceptance,” said COC’s chancellor Dianne Van Hook.
But students who identify as transgender feel less accepted than a student not in the community.
“I am always called by my old name because it’s on the official record. I’ve been told that I can’t change it on my ID or in the system until I change it legally (which costs $435 to petition for it),” said another student.
So having the center on campus can help prevent things like this from happening because there would be no confusion for the student and the faculty/staff member. It could create a sense of a safe place for transgender students.
When CSUN decided to open their center, it was not an easy road.
“Overall, the center from proposal to the opening took about two years” said Loeb, “There was lots of support for the center…Having a Pride Center allows for greater outreach and support for LGBTQIA+ students. It also helps educate the campus community on LGBTQIA+ topics.”
With the center, transgender students are able to better understand and educate themselves on topics that are considered too taboo to talk about in public settings. This is why CSUN offers other things like T-time for transgender students.
“T-time…is a weekly discussion group for transgender and non-binary students. The discussion group has two facilitators who identify within the community and provide an atmosphere for students to discuss their experiences,” said Loeb.
So along with the center, trans students can have this extra opportunity to be heard and hear other people’s experiences.
“Clubs only meet once a week, and often people can’t make it to clubs because of class or work. I think it could help educate the community on safe sex, the legal name change process, and other resources for the LGBTQ+ community,” said an anonymous student.
In terms of COC and the center, it can work into people’s schedules better and more efficiently because they can go whenever they want. It could also encourage other students who are not in the community to support the facility.
“Using our own research based on feedback that we have gotten from students saying ‘Hey, it would really be beneficial to have these x-y-z support around my different identities’,” said Love.
Transgender students can benefit tremendously from the center if College of the Canyons decides to go through the process to open it. Students will start to feel the support from fellow peers and staff if COC moves forward with the proposal. And if the proposal is successful, it can help reach the masses of students on generating an even better experience at COC. With clubs like Trans* Alliance, however, it also gives that extra feeling of support and change that COC needs.
“To fulfill its mission, College of the Canyons embraces diversity” says the school’s website.
If COC opens a center for the LGBTQ+ community, it can help extend the message of embracing diversity and acceptance to a new level. The diversity in the COC is very apparent. There are people who are apart of Latinx and are part of the LGBTQ+ community.
There are also allies who stick up for marginalized people. An ally is someone who supports and helps combine communities for a cause or benefit. And a marginalized person is someone who is considered a minority.
Lastly, if we build this center, the community will have more unity than ever before. It will feel like there is a place for everyone and anyone at COC.