A presentation was held Tuesday at Monroe County Community College on what it means to be an LGBTQ ally.
The speaker was Melissa Grey, associate professor of psychology at the college.
LGBTQ is an acronym for Lesbian, Gay, Transgendered, Bi-sexual, and Questions. The presentation was designed to bring awareness to college students about the problems that these groups face in everyday life.
“It’s not a coincidence that LGBT people experience more harassment,” Grey said.
Melissa Grey showed a poll of LGBT students who have been part of some sort of sexual harassment while going to college.
The survey showed that 72 percent of LGBT students have experienced non-contact sexual harassment, such as being called names and having sexual jokes or comments directed at them, and 44 percent have experiencedphysical sexual harassment.
Grey pointed out that students who suffer from this type of harassment face increased risk of depression, anxiety, and even suicide. She also noted that being harassed like this can cause students to concentrate less, and not do well at school.
So what is an ally? An ally is a heterosexual or straight person who is interested in understanding diversity and actively works to dismantle the divide between straight and gay people. Also, an ally spends energy to reduce disadvantages and to level the playing field.
Grey said that being heterosexual is a privilege – people do not have to go through the experiences that LGBT people face.
“When you help as an ally, you’re spending that privilege,” Grey said.
Grey pointed out some things you can do by being an ally that are simple and do not involve joining any group. You can be active in your own thoughts and words, and confront prejudice and discrimination. Also, don’t make assumptions about people’s sexual orientations, and help people realize their own biases.
There was a lot of passion in the room from the students who were attending.
“It sickens me how people can treat other people in such a derogatory way,” one student said.
Students who are interested in learning more about becoming an ally can visit the Gay Straight Alliance, which meets every Tuesday at 12:30 p.m. in room A173.