Support LGBT students through education

Alyssa Jingling

There are more than 50,000 unique identities coexisting on the 40 Acres. Even the most woke people probably don’t understand all of them. In light of June being Pride Month, take some time to learn a little bit more about LGBTQ+ identities and what you, as an ally or as a member of the community, can do to validate and give a voice to your queer peers.

According to Gallup's annual values and beliefs poll that was conducted May 1–10, 2018, 67 percent of Americans support same-sex marriage. This is the highest percentage since Gallup began surveying this question in 1996. However, that still means one out of every three people you meet do not support queer relationships.

“Creating an environment where different identities can live together without conflicts because of difference is one of the main aspirations of minority groups,” Héctor Domínguez Ruvalcaba, associate professor in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese with an interest in queer studies, said in an email. “In my view, the validation of our identity by others is a form of citizenship recognition, which is substantial for a genuine democratic society.”

One easy way to support the LGBTQ+ community is to understand what each identity means. While not everyone likes being labeled, queer people often feel more validated if their friends understand how they identify themselves. To start, the acronym LGBTQ+ stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer. The “+” functions to include any queer identity not in the acronym. To learn what each of these identities means, along with other words related to the LGBTQ+ community, students should check out out the Gender and Sexuality Center’s glossary.

“It is part of our civic ethics to support the human rights of groups that, like (the) queer community, have been historically victimized because of being different,” Domínguez Ruvalcaba said.

The Gender and Sexuality Center lists 24 Student Group Affiliates. These groups work to support UT students that share queer identities by giving them voices and power. By joining one of these organizations and by helping them get more recognition on campus, you can help give more queer people a voice.

“Beyond tolerance and official recognition, we have to think on a full incorporation of LGBTQ+ culture and politics in the agendas of the community at large,” Ruvalcaba said. It is important to give minority groups a voice, whether in the federal government or the UT student government. More students should join LGBTQ+ and ally student groups in order to support those communities. Queer students can support the LGBTQ+ community by running for student government positions, and allies can encourage their queer friends to run for these positions.

The University of Texas is a huge part of Austin culture — a city that prides itself on being a liberal haven in a Texas-sized sea of conservatives. While it is wonderful to accept queer people as they are, that’s not enough to help the community. Put in a little effort to help your fellow Longhorns feel safe and accepted by being a well-educated and active ally.

Jingling is an English sophomore from Leander.