Straight, LGBTQ students join Pride Alliance

For most, dating in college is easy. For the most part, the average college couple receives little scrutiny. Yet for some, dating in college comes at a much higher cost.
Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) students and faculty at campuses across the nation face situations in which they personally have to deal with judgment and persecution by certain peers and also from select members of society outside of campus when it comes their dating lifestyle.
Members of the Atlanta community have chosen to voice their opposition of the LGBTQ community by holding malicious protests and posting hateful slurs around Tech’s campus.
In response, student-led groups such as the Pride Alliance and the Acceptance for All movement have emerged in order to provide a support network for members of Tech’s LGBTQ population and to unite with non-members and show their support for one another.
“[Pride Alliance is] a supportive and educational environment for our members and non-members alike; to function as a resource for those who want and/or need information about [LGBTQ] issues and any other related issues; and to provide a positive gay awareness and presence in the Georgia Tech community,” according to the website.
Providing students with counseling sessions, volunteer opportunities and pride events throughout the year, the organization exists as more than just a equal rights group. It provides Tech with multiple facets of activities while catering to an under-represented minority.
Pride Alliance is not a localized phenomenon, but part of larger growing trend among universities. Throughout the U.S., other alliances and groups with the similar cause of supporting their respective LGBTQ communities have been established to help ensure that no student is left alone to stand against animosity or criticism.
Joining in to show their support, straight and “non LGBTQ members” have become a vital part of the Pride Alliance’s goal.
Julie Champion, the current president of Pride Alliance at Tech and a fourth-year BME major, is the organization’s first straight president, helping to bridge the gap between members and non-members.
Aside from the Alliance, Champion has teamed up with other non-LGBTQ Tech students Matt Jacobson, a third-year ECE major, and Matt LeBrun, a fourth-year BA major, to revive the Acceptance for All campaign that proclaims, “It’s okay to be gay at Georgia Tech.”
First initiated in 1996 and then repeated in 2002 and 2005, the Acceptance for All initiative is a movement that collects the signatures of students and faculty at Tech who support the LGBTQ community with the end result being a two-page printed ad, listing the names of the students and faculty who have decided to show their support for Alliance’s mission.
“The petition is a very simple statement expressing that the undersigned support the LGBTQ members of our current, future and past campus community. The ad says so much more than that, though. It shows those members of our campus that aren’t ‘out’ (open about their sexuality) yet that there is an overwhelming amount of support for them,” Champion said.
“Having seen [the injustices] first hand, I decided to take a stand and encourage other straight students to be accepting of Tech’s LGBTQ population,” LeBrun said. “Our mission is not to make others believe or feel any specific way, either from a moral or religious perspective. We simply hope to inspire others to refrain from hating and bullying and instead be accepting and understanding.”
“Like [LeBrun], I am a straight student ally and otherwise unaffiliated with the Pride Alliance. Personally, I am motivated by my friends and upbringing; I simply do not think that sexual orientation should be a point of distinction among friends,” Jacobson said. “We want to be encouraging of our ‘out’ friends, supportive for those who are not and influencers amongst our fellow allies.”
Champion, LeBrun and Jacobson are just a few members of the student population that have taken the task of helping support the LGBTQ population.
They, along with the names of those who signed the Acceptance for All proclamation, are a vital part of promoting an awareness of the situation.
“Creating a safe space on Georgia Tech’s campus can only happen if all members of our community, whether LGBTQ or not, show their support and care about this issue passionately enough to stand up for someone who is being hurt,” Champion said.
“By signing under this statement, the members of [Tech’s] community are reminded that taking passive role in this fight will get us no where. It brings the signers into the human rights issues of our generation and encourages a more active role,” Champion said.

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