Tarleton Ally program continues to be a safe outlet for LGBTQ community
The Ally program at Tarleton State University was redesigned in 2012 to be to help students learn more about the LGBTQ community and to provide support for those individuals. Students can feel safe knowing that they can talk to certain faculty members without the fear of being judged or ridiculed.
According to the Tarleton website, a Tarleton Ally is an individual who is willing to provide a safe space, respectful listening, and support for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people. These individuals are identified by an Ally placard at their office or residence, or a rainbow ribbon lapel pin. The pin is a sign indicating this is a safe place to be with an ally who is ready to support.
An instructor and a member of the Ally Advisory Board, Prairie Parnell said, “The purpose of the Ally program is to provide a safe space, to listen to students, and provide support as we can. We don’t always know the answer, but we try to point people in the right direction, or seek out others who would know more than us.”
According to the Tarleton website, there are three levels of training in order to become an Ally. After the first level of training, an Ally can decide whether they want to continue with the level two and level three trainings. At the end of training, an individual has an option to sign a contract as an Ally and receive the placard and pin that indicates his or her commitment to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community.
“Ally level one training is a basic overview of LGBTQ issues on campus, how to be a safe space and how to direct people to resources. Ally level two training covers the coming out process and dealing with issues more specifically on campus, like roommates, safe spaces around town and campus and ways to advocate for LGBTQ students. Ally level three is over transgender information, as that is often a really challenging concept for people to grasp,” Parnell said.
Parnell explained that the “allies have to want to be supportive of the LGBTQ community and have to be willing to help.”
The director of the office of diversity and inclusion, Dr. Lora Helvie-Mason said she believes that the Tarleton Ally program is beneficial to students in many ways.
“We believe that raising awareness of the LGBTQ+ community and how to effectively serve as an ally aids our students in finding resources, feeling comfortable on campus, and fostering a community of support,” Helvie-Mason said.
Helvie-Mason said the Ally program has been successful in helping students feel more comfortable and safe around campus. Many students at Tarleton are involved in the program.
“We have over one hundred and fifty faculty and staff allies. Over two hundred [students] have participated in Ally one training,” Helvie-Mason said.
“Students benefit by having a place on campus where they aren’t worried, belittled or abused for being themselves. Knowing who the allies are on campus makes it easier to report harassment and gives support to the student, because they know there’s a faculty member supporting them as well. Since we have allies in nearly every department on campus, we hope that there’s always at least one safe, comfortable space in every building,” Parnell said.
According to the Tarleton website, the Allies program is run through the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, which is housed under Student Success and Multicultural Initiatives. The Tarleton Ally program is guided by the Ally Advisory Board. For more information on how to become a Tarleton Ally, visit: http://www.tarleton.edu/CGMIWEB/diversity/programs/tarleton-allies.html.