The President’s Commission on Gender Identity & Expression and Sexual Orientation (GIESO) announced via social media that some of the #IntersectionalitySRU lawn signs were vandalized.
“While we do not yet know the specific identity or motives of the perpetrator, we do know that destruction of these signs contributes to a feeling of not being safe on campus for our LGBTQ+ students, faculty, and staff,” GIESO’s Facebook post reads. “The signs also showed support to people of color and people of varying national origin.”
“We’d like to call on the whole campus community to join us in condemning homophobia, transphobia and racism in all their forms,” the post continues, “and working to make SRU a place where all members of the community can feel free and safe to bring their whole selves.”
The campaign was established and announced earlier this semester as part of LGBTQ+ history month to increase awareness and knowledge of the different intersections within the LGBTQ+ community. The signs featured popular slogans from other social justice movements such as “Black LGBTQ+ lives matter” and “No LGBTQ+ human is illegal” to show that other forms of oppression exist within each other.
Vanessa Vought, co-chair of GIESO, said she is deeply upset by the vandalism and that the incident has been discouraging because of the overall anticipation of the campaign.
“This is kind of disappointing. Our initial aim was to recognize this population and celebrate them during their special month, but this knocked us down a few pegs,” she said. “I came in Monday morning and found this out, so it was an awful start to the week.”
A report was filed with university police, and the investigation is ongoing, but Vought is unsure of the actions that will be taken, let alone if the culprit will be identified.
She isn’t sure what she would say to the vandal if they were face-to-face, but she believes that the person may not have been educated or the person didn’t fully understand the consequences of their actions. She said the motive isn’t necessarily relevant though because the impact of the incident has been more prevalent than whatever the specific details may be.
“There’s been this pattern on campus of intolerant behavior, and I think all of these pieces add up to a greater whole,” Vought said, referring to the vandalism of a Black History Month poster in the spring 2019 semester. “If I could, I would love to sit down with this person, talk about it and provide them with the education that we were initially trying to provide.”
Speaking directly to members of the LGBTQ+ community, she said GIESO is still actively serving them. In response to the vandalism, GIESO has implored other departments, organizations and clubs to band together to condemn this behavior and show their support for the community.
“I was with the HOPE students Monday night and we were talking about microaggressions,” Vought said. “These microaggressions are kind of like mosquito bites, but this is a pretty big mosquito bite for our LGBTQ+ community.”
She added that this incident is just another weight to add to their already large pile of heavy stressors.
“We need to show them a little bit of extra love this week,” she said. “Like any other student, they’re facing finals and stress with their classes, and now they have this on top of all of that. It’s one more thing they have to deal with now, and they shouldn’t have to.”