Be more supportive of the LGBTQ community

By Aaron Brooks

A good vision for NIU would be continuing to educate students about LGBT history. My perception, as well as others, is that NIU could improve from good to great. I believe the next step for NIU is not the passive acceptance of all gender identities, but one of advocacy and support.

NIU should not match the $3 million donated for a new indoor football facility; especially since Huskie Stadium will need a $3 million renovation soon.

NIU’s willingness to spend money should be directed toward a $1.5 million LGBT Outreach Center and lounge: gender neutral bathrooms and mock trial court room included.

The new NIU LGBT Outreach Center would be a great place for all students to organize awareness and social groups of all civic causes around the nation and the world.

Take for example, Ryan Mishler, senior community leadership and civic engagement major, who will be one of the first to graduate within that major at NIU. In high school, Mishler and other students wanted to organize a gay-straight alliance, but his principal refused to allow the organization.

Mishler wants to reach out to LGBT students from his high school – and others – to help start LGBT awareness and social groups, but he does not have the resources.

The resource Mishler is missing is other students. I, for example, know how to do legal research. If I had known of Mishler’s plans, I would have been more than obliged to send a copy of the Equal Access Act to his former principal.

Mishler and I have been in many classes together, and I have seen him in the library and computer labs, but those environments are not conducive to planning and taking action. Students need a place outside of the silent study labs to become active, get help and collaborate.

Overall, the students I talked to are very pleased with the attitude of the student body and the resources NIU has made available to them, and cite the LGBT resources as a determinate factor in choosing NIU. As Katja Kaelin, senior philosophy major, said, “[The LGBT Resource Center gives me] a sense of community. I look around and see people who I can relate to and share my experiences completely and openly without worry of being judged.”

The tide of ignorance and prejudice is receding, but there still is progress to made. Much of that progress is in the attitudes of individuals.

Sure, you may say, “I don’t care about a person’s sexual orientation,” but if your child tells you he is gay, how would you feel then?

The greatest eraser of stereotypes is interaction, and I ask that the student body start to interact with the LGBT community.

Come to the Duke Ellington Ballroom and show support Thursday from 7 to 10 p.m. by attending the fashion and drag show, or help end LGBT History Month in your Halloween costume at the Fall Dessert Reception, Oct. 31, 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., in the gallery of the Holmes Student Center.

If you would like more information on the LGBT Resource Center or upcoming events, check out the Resource Center’s website, or visit the Holmes Student Center Room 704.