LGBT support at Tarleton

By Kimberly Perkins –

Programs promoting general tolerance of all minority students may not be enough for the LGBT community at Tarleton, according to some. LGBT is lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgendered.

Tarleton State University has the Office of Diversity and Inclusion and programs like Texans Promoting Tolerance available as a support system to minorities on campus. Tarleton is also re-opening the Allies Program on campus to add to the support of Tarleton minorities.

Ms. Prairie Parnell, an adjunct instructor, has worked at schools that have had Allies programs. She said that this is how the program works: students and faculty who would like to be a part of the program go through training that teaches them the things they need to know to help and support LGBT students. After the training, they receive a certificate to place on their door to show that they know how to help. This is an extremely important thing to have these days. With constant harassment still impacting people in this community, it’s advised that schools have a support system in place for students who may be directly affected by the lack of legislation protecting the LGBTQ people. With the current homophobes that want to get elected, things won’t change. That’s why it’s so important to think about this community and other minorities when casting votes for the presidential election. Schools shouldn’t have to set up these sorts of support systems to prevent students from being harmed for their preferences.

The Tarleton Allies program is very similar. Dr. Moumin Quazi, who is the interim director of the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, said in a campus wide email that the group of student and faculty members who go through the training will be known as “Safe ‘T’ Zones” and “Tarleton Allies.” They will be given Safe “T” Zone placards after their training to show that the “Safe ‘T’ Zones” are safe places for minority students.

The Tarleton Allies program is will also have “Diversity Friendly” Zones. This second option will be available to students and faculty who want to help but do not want to be as much of a part of the Allies program.

The Tarleton allies program will be available for all minority groups, not just the LGBT community. Programs like the Allies program and Texans Promoting Tolerance promote diversity and provide support for minorities, but there is nothing available on campus that provides support specifically for the LGBT community.

Dr. Jason LaTouche, who is the adviser for Texans Promoting Tolerance, said the group promotes diversity and creates a safe community that is supportive but it is a part of what should be a larger support system for the LGBT community.

Parnell said she is worried about the changes being made to the Allies program. She said she would love to see the program succeed but LGBT students are not happy with the broadening of the program. She said the Diversity Friendly Zones could be too simplistic, and it doesn’t address LGBT issues.

Quazi said Tarleton is always striving to do better and the Tarleton campus is evolving and becoming more tolerant.

LaTouche said he believes there are still challenges when it comes to LGBT acceptance at Tarleton, and that is why it is important to have programs that will help educate students about the LGBT community.

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