I have been going to Bellevue College for almost two years now. In my time here I have taken gender classes, sociology classes, obtained a job as the director of LGBTQ Resource Center and immersed my life in the self-study of the LGBT community, particularly how it intertwines in higher education. As I become more immersed in the world of sociology and social justice, I start to notice all of the little things that occur on campus that most don’t notice or take for granted.
While I may be biased because of my current job as director of the center and the fact that the community has been a large focus of my self-studies, I believe that the experiences that others have had on campus and the knowledge that I have regarding all communities, give me the confidence to have the beliefs I do in the climate at BC.
While the college prides itself on diversity workshops, seminars, classes and discussions, I have noticed that the focus on these is usually race, ethnicity and nationality. Only the well-versed and educated are considering including the LGBTQ community in “diversity.” This makes some in the community feel left out.Being a queer student on campus is difficult enough as it is. There are so many things that we need to have in the forefront of our minds that should be completely unnecessary. Things like walking in twos while going to the bathroom. Being cautious about where you are on campus, what you’re wearing, if you’re showing rainbow bracelets and so many other things. Even with my support systems that I have gained through working at the college, I still find it difficult to come to school sometimes because of the looks I get if I dress or act a certain way. With the sociological awareness that I’ve gained through taking such classes, it becomes even more difficult. When a student walks into a class that does not ask for preferreed gender pronoun, preferred gender name, when you constantly hear race and ethnicity when talking about minorities, diversity, pluralism and equality before anything about the LGBTQ community it becomes very obvious and at times, very oppressing.
As the director of the LGBTQ Resource Center, I sit on a couple of committees, trying my best to attend the numerous lectures, workshops and discussions regarding diversity on BC campus. However, I quickly noticed that the same faculty and staff on campus were attending these events and discussions and one of the things I always asked myself was, “why are the people that already know about all of this the only ones showing up?”
There have been several outcries from clubs and programs asking BC to step up because sometimes, in the seat of director of a minority related program, it seems like attendance, acceptance and education is so low. The directors of certain programs or presidents of certain clubs have the responsibility of educating the entire campus on whatever group they represent. The way that I see it, the directors or the presidents should be providing support to the students that are going to BC, not education to the faculty and staff that are teaching here.