Ally Club encourages tolerance and acceptance on campus

Ally+Club+encourages+tolerance+and+acceptance+on+campus

Photo credit/ Amanda Duncklee

Amanda Duncklee , Community Editor

Imagine an environment where the only constituent for being included was being yourself. Fortunately, that environment is right here on Marywood’s campus.

The Ally Club’s members strive to create an LGBT friendly presence on campus through educating others about issues related to the LGBT community.

From April 11 to April 15 between 12 and 2 p.m. in the Learning Commons, members of the Ally Club sat at a table to engage in dialogue with people who wanted to learn more about what being an ally entails as well as those who were curious about the LGBT community.

As a way to eradicate the negative stigma that sometimes surrounds LGBT issues, Ally Club created the theme of “Breaking the Silence” as a way to confront and discuss issues directly.

“Today was the National Day of Silence [for the LGBT community],” said Ally Club President Justin Allen, a junior psychology major. “Instead of remaining silent, we wanted to speak up about these issues.”

The club presented a different theme of discussion for each day from Monday through Friday. Starting on Monday, the themes were: sexual orientation; general Q&A; gender; religion and homosexuality and Day of Silence sit-in.
“We had more success than we thought,” said Allen. “We had more people stop by than we expected… we plan on doing it again next year.”

Kelsie Larkins, sophomore criminal justice and sociology major and vice president of the Ally Club, spoke of the importance of open discussion and what it means to be an ally.

“Even having one person come up [to the table] with a serious question is worth it so they can feel like they have somewhere to go,” said Larkins. “An ally in general means any one who supports [the LGBT community].

In addition to the open discussions in the Learning Commons, the Ally Club and Sr. John, IHM, director of Campus Ministry, facilitated an Ally Training session from 3 to 5 p.m. in the Upper Main Dining Hall of the Nazareth Student Center. Following the training session, the Ally Club held a social for all members of the Marywood community in Upper Main at 6 p.m.

“I think it went well,” said Sr. John in regards to the Ally Training. “There’s so much information you want people to have. Some people had a lot, some little. It’s hard to have training geared to everyone.”

There is no official certification for an ally, but those who went to the Ally Training on Friday received a small rainbow triangle. The triangle signifies that whomever places it on their dorm or office door is open to discussing LGBT issues in confidence, according to Larkins.

“LGBT issues are a hot topic in society,” said Larkins. “You have people who support and people who don’t. For people in the LGBT community, support is everything.”

Sr. John attended led the Ally Training event and stopped by the Ally Club social.

“I don’t think we have discrimination against the LGBT population,” said Sr. John. “I think the education we’ve done has been appropriate because we know what is and is not okay. Discrimination will not be tolerated.”

Sr. John also noted the importance of having an Ally Club on Marywood’s campus and the mixed reactions about the LGBT community on Marywood’s campus.

“I think that Ally Training needs to be given to faculty and staff as well as students,” said Sr. John. “Whatever discrimination I have heard of has not been from students- it happens in the classroom.

“I think [the purpose of an Ally Club is] to make people feel welcome and support, but mostly to feel welcome. Everyone is welcome,” added Sr. John.

The Ally Club holds meetings every Wednesday at 9 p.m. in Conference Room B of the Swartz Center. Allen and Larkins stressed the importance that the Ally Club is a fully inclusive environment.

“Feel free to attend meetings at any time,” said Allen. Added Larkins, “Our Ally Club is open to anyone. We’re here, and you can hang out with us, too.”

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