During the week of March 13, Refuge (Eastern’s Gay-Straight Alliance) and the Political Activism Club (PAC) partnered to host “LGBT+ Stand in Solidarity.” Through Solidarity Week, Refuge and PAC aimed to show support for the LGBT+ members of Eastern’s community, educate about LGBT+ issues, vocabulary and resources at Eastern and encourage Eastern’s Board to remove particular phrases from the student and faculty handbooks: “between a man and a woman” from the definition of marriage in the student handbook and “homosexual conduct” as an example of “moral turpitude” in the faculty handbook. The goal of Refuge and PAC was for Eastern’s community to support this vision of solidarity, regardless of personal religious or political stances.
Refuge and PAC advocated specifically for Eastern faculty’s sensitivity training, which is education on appropriate and loving communication. In addition, they requested that the University recognize Refuge as a safe space for students, instead of a controversial group.
All members of Eastern’s community were invited to the events of this week to support and request that Eastern welcome LGBT+ students and faculty. On Monday, ribbons and information pamphlets were distributed during the day in the McInnis lobby. Tuesday consisted of a pancake night in the Eagle Great Room, where more than 40 students ventured out, despite the snow, to eat and watch an episode of the television series “When We Rise.” On Wednesday, supporting students created signs to post around campus of LGBT+ facts and statistics. Then, on Thursday night, several gathered in the Gough lobby to tie-dye shirts and create signs in support of solidarity for the upcoming stand outside of Walton.
On Friday, March 17, from 1 to 3 p.m., Refuge and PAC reserved the Walton patio to demonstrate disapproval of Eastern’s current LGBT+ policies and handbook language. It was called the Solidarity Stand and was the main event of the week. Current students, alumni, faculty and staff filled up the entire patio outside of Jammin’ Java to stand in support. During the event, leaders communicated the specific changes being requested, and students and alumni shared poetry and personal testimonies. The event was organized around four times of prayer, led by community members Peggy Campolo, Jim Goodyear, Khalil Martin and Jessie Nichols.
For more information on Solidarity Week, please contact Lizzy Parker at email@example.com, Jenn Timmerman at firstname.lastname@example.org, Ian Jennings at email@example.com or Samuel Vaughan at firstname.lastname@example.org.