Students of UNC System make gains for LGBT students

In the last week two campuses in the UNC System made news for the events they held for LGBTQ and straight allied students. The Day of Silence at UNC-Charlotte on April 26 and the Lavender Graduation at UNC-Chapel Hill on April 28 wrapped up a school year full of activism, awareness and education on LGBTQA issues on UNC System campuses.

With the UNC System still hanging in the shadow of an overwhelming defeat of LGBT inclusive legislation in the UNC Association of Student Governments in mid-April, the more bright side isn’t far away.

The 2006-2007 academic year was one full of gains and successes for LGBTQA students and student groups across the UNC System.

At UNC-Chapel Hill, the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Straight Alliance (GLBTSA) made gains like never before. Their Unity Conference (which I attended) attracted more than 300 students from across North Carolina and the entire Southeast. The group’s annual drag show, also in April, attracted more than 900 students and the group held numerous educational and awareness weeks throughout the year. In Boone, Appalachian State University’s BGLAAD also held a well-attended drag show.

In Greensboro, UNCG PRIDE! made gains in public recognition of its group and LGBTQA issues. Although the group continues to struggle with problems of low membership, publicity and image, it is clear that the group did much better in gaining members and participation from last school year. The group’s PRIDE! week was at least twice as big as the 2005 PRIDE! Week and the executive board for the 2006-2007 academic year is comprised of some of the most active, dedicated and motivated students on the UNCG campus.

In February, Pride at UNC-Charlotte held an LGBTQA film festival. Showing everything from full feature films to shorts, the event was one which I’m sure many LGBTQA student groups across the state would like to emulate.

While UNC-Asheville students struggled on issues of diversity of race and ethnicity, the LGBTQA student group, Alliance, has been able to show strength by banding together and working on the issues. In an early April news article, the president of the UNCA Student Diversity Alliance, Sarah Young, was quoted as saying: “”This school is very progressive on sexual identity on campus, because that community is assertive and is seen as a very big part of campus. A lot of students associate with those issues; not a lot of students associate with race.”

In the Triad area, LGBTQ and straight allied student leaders from the various Triad-area LGBTQA college student groups started to ban together and jointly coordinate QCYNT (pronounced “q-cent”), the Queer College Youth Network of the Triad. For now, at least, I am heading up the organization. As more students get involved and as the Advisory Board grows, however, other students will begin to step up and take more organizational and administrative roles. The group, as of right now, is planning on organizing a leaders summit for Triad-area LGBTQ and straight allied college students.

Overall, despite the usual, normal and expected setback, LGBTQA student organizing was a success this year. Next year things should only get better.

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