Peterson welcomes LGBTQIA Center

Photo by Brenda Lin

On Wednesday, the Tech LGBTQIA Resource Center had its grand opening. The event was attended by several student and administrative leaders including Institute President G. P. “Bud” Peterson and Tech first lady Val Peterson. The center focuses on serving on members of the Tech community identifying as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning, queer, intersex or asexual.

“We’re trying to make a campus environment where all of our students, all of our staff, regardless of gender or sexual orientation, will feel welcome and feel involved and respected and affirmed,” Peterson said at the event. “Our students, faculty and staff have eagerly been awaiting this center for quite some time.”

The center officially opened last April with Aby Parsons, Director of the LGBTQIA Resource Center, arrival at Tech.

Previous Tech initiatives towards LGBTQIA inclusiveness include the Safe Space training program and the addition of gender-neutral bathrooms in all new buildings. In his speech Peterson promised that all new buildings and major renovations of existing buildings would include gender-neutral bathrooms.

Other speakers at the opening included Parsons, Archie Ervin, Vice President for Institute Diversity and William Schafer, Vice President for Student Affairs.

“I think it really sends a message that we have the senior leaders from on campus and especially with the president, sending a message to everyone that our LGBTQIA students, faculty, staff and alumni are valued and they are an important part of our campus,” Parsons said.

The addition of the center comes after several years of lobbying by students, alumni and administrators. Support for a center was a major campaign promise of Nick Picon and Lucy Tucker, the previous Undergraduate Student Body President and Executive Vice President.

The addition of the center makes Tech one of four universities in the state with an LGBTQIA resource center.

“Because this is a really historic occasion for Georgia Tech, this has been a long time coming getting this center, so we wanted to make sure we were celebrating it appropriately,” Parsons said.

Several student leaders spoke at the event, including Simeon Bruce, Pride Alliance President, and Emily Li, oSTEM President.

“With the opening of this center, Georgia Tech is making an institutional commitment to the existence of queer space,” Bruce said at the event. “Space has been made for queer voices, queer concerns, queer students, faculty and staff of this institute, and it is here to stay.”

According to Parsons, the resource center will fill a variety of roles related to LGBTQIA issues including event coordination, training, individual support and advocacy and consultation with campus administration.

The center will coordinate the long-standing Safe Space Program and seek to expand it to allow for more organizations to participate. The hope is that any student group, Tech department, residence hall floor or greek organization will be able to participate in the training if they express an interest.