Photo by Casey Gomez

In Smithgall on Thursday, Aug. 23, three flags — the trans flag, the gay pride flag and the bisexual pride flag — stood out in the morning light among the rest, welcoming a new era for students on Tech’s campus.

Over one hundred students, staff, faculty and alumni congregated for the grand opening of the new LGBTQIA Resource Center, which began with an introduction from Aby Parsons, the director of the LGBTQIA Resource Center, who described the center’s many achievements since opening four years ago.

Since its start, the small resource center staff has trained over 1,700 students and staff in inclusion, raised over $50,000 in alumni and employee donations, celebrated over 70 Lavender Graduates and started over 20 new initiatives for fostering a more inclusive environment. This year, the center will double their staff with the addition of a full-time coordinator, Camilla Brewer.

The expanded center now includes a meeting space for discussions and study, a lounge for viewing presentations, films and hosting events, two professional staff offices, a reception area and “the Oasis,” a space meant for relaxation and supporting positive mental health measures.

President G. P. “Bud” Peterson, Dean John Stein from the Office of Student Life, Director of Diversity and Inclusion Archie Ervin and President of Pride Alliance Genny Kennedy all spoke at the ceremony, each with different  insights into the importance and impact of the expanded center.

Peterson explained the need for a center like this, where people, both Tech students on campus and LGBT community members across the greater Atlanta area,  can feel safe, included and heard.

Peterson reaffirmed Tech’s mission to “create the type of environment and culture that we can be proud of,” and assured his audience he would provide an update on the Path Forward action teams’ progress in his institute address next month.

Kennedy described her immense pride and excitement for the grand opening not only as a member of the Pride Alliance, but also as a student at Tech. Kennedy joked the LGBT community’s previous office put members “in the closet,” but the audience could see now that the members of the community were finally out of the closet and in the spotlight — right where they belonged.

Multiple speakers mentioned how the tragic death of Scout Schultz galvanized much needed change on Tech’s campus, and that we should all hold a space in our hearts for their family, friends and passions that caused them to advocate for this type of expansion and celebration of diversity to occur.

After Parsons cut the ribbon to the center, she lead a group inside to show them the realized result of the center expansion.

In her speech, Parsons said she hopes the center and the ideals it stands for will not be going away anytime soon.

The LGBTQIA+ Resource Center in the Flag building can be visited weekdays from Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. and will welcome visitors of any kind, any time.