LGBTQ+ ally training addresses misconceptions

The LGBTQ+ Pride Center provides information about resources to students, staff, and faculty. (Photo by Katia Esguerra)

Here at American River College in the HUB, the Pride Center is making changes to help support, educate and inform the community on how to be an ally to LGBTQ+ students.

Emilie Mitchell, coordinator for the ARC Pride Center and faculty member for the psychology department, defined LGBTQ+ for students and staff and explained what it takes to be an ally to LGBTQ+ students, during a training conference on Feb. 14 in Raef Hall.

Mitchell expanded the definition of sex, attraction, identity, expression and why we should understand the diversity of student needs at ARC.

“We attend a very diverse college and the goal of an education is for everybody to have equal participation,” Mitchell said. “If we ignore the needs of groups of students because we just don’t understand or we just don’t want to, we are fundamentally undermining the basis of education and ultimately, a democracy.”

Mitchell defined commonly misunderstood terminology like sex, gender, identity, expression and attraction. Sex refers to the biological XX and XY chromosomes. Our gender, according to Mitchell, is defined as a social construct created by beliefs on how people are supposed to act in female and male roles. Identity is how people see themselves. Attraction comes from who people are romantically and sexually interested in. Expression relates to how people show their gender, Mitchell says.

The Pride Center, a support services group located in the HUB that opened in 2018, has made changes within the last year that are currently in effect to help support LGBTQ+ students, including the ability for students to put their affirmed name on eServices.

The staff in the Pride Center are currently working with school administration on a future project that would add new facilities for a single-stall shower and changing room in the Athletics Department. In addition, Mitchell is looking to have student ID cards printed with their affirmed names.

Mitchell also explained that ARC is one of eight colleges with a staffed LGBTQ+ service center in the nation. With six centers in California, one in Colorado, and one in Minnesota that help provide resources and support to the trans and queer community, students are able to utilize the resources through the counselors, student staff members, and their peers with guidance.

“There are eight community colleges in the nation that have a staffed center that serve the needs of LGBTQ+ students,” Mitchell said. “Now students who wish to receive their academic counseling can do it in the ARC Pride Center. We have students coming from across campuses to come to those. There’s clearly a need.”

Erica West Oyedele, department chair for the Interpreter Preparation Program, sits in the Ally training to help her students practice interpreting for their fieldwork hours during the College Hour. (Photo by Katia Esguerra)

Michelle Miller, one of several students who attended the ally training, sat in the conference watching her classmates interpret Mitchell’s lecture using American Sign Language.

“It’s a really good presentation for people who don’t know anything about the [LGBTQ+ community],” Miller said.

Alejandra Fernandez Garcia, a student personnel assistant for the Pride Center, works alongside students to create fun, exciting programs that anybody can check out.

“We have a variety of different programs and events that we host every semester,” Fernandez Garcia said. “For example we had a spring kickoff, a creative writing workshop, and a silk screening workshop creating different art expressions, and … (we’re) wrapping our semester up with our Lavender Graduation for trans and queer students.”

The Lavender Graduation is scheduled for May 3. For more information on events and resources, email [email protected].

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