A presentation discussing LGBT rights in Pennsylvania will be given by the executive director of equality Pennsylvania on March 31 at Ballroom A in the Robert M. Smith Student Center during common hour
Ted Martin, executive director of equality Pennsylvania, the state’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) political advocacy organization said his presentation will be about the state of LGBT rights in Pennsylvania, specifically centered around discrimination that still exists in the state.
Martin said everyone should be informed about the LGBT community, especially college students.
“College students are close to the issue,” Martin said. “They are activists, which is a good thing. I think it’s important to tell college students so that they can go home and tell everyone else.”
Martin hopes students will gain more knowledge from his presentation and hopes that students will actually take away some of the things that he plans to talk about.
“I hope they take away a couple of things,” Martin said. “One, you can be fired for being gay in Pennsylvania, which I think is astonishing. I really want them [students] to take that away. I also want them to take away the fact that they can do something about this if they think it’s wrong. This is the decision as time has come and this is the decision where legislatures in Harrisburg need to hear from the public. I want them to be able to take away the fact that they can actually help change it.”
Kristopher Hawkins, fifth year psychology major and president of RockOUT expressed how important it is for campuses all across the state to learn more about the LGBT community.
“I think, not even on this campus, but across the state, because we have equality marriage now, people think that that’s the end-all, be-all for the movement and I think now we’re at a place that we need to focus on other things such as employment, non-discrimination, transgender rights and adoption rights, Hawkins said. “So, I think it’s going to be more important because we have a major leader in the state of Pennsylvania come to campus and talk about the next steps and how to be better involved in the movement.”
Hawkins said he believes that the campus has not yet reached a place where the campus accepts and understands the LGBT community. However, he said there are really great resources around campus that are trying to move us to becoming a more welcomed and opened campus.
“I think currently we have a lot of initiatives in place, but there is certainly more that we could do,” Hawkins said. “I’ve said this before, but the one thing that we always talk about in terms of Slippery Rock University is that we have the ‘in-the-room phenomenon’, so when a gay person, or a lesbian or a transgendered person comes in the room, nothing negative will be said, most often, but when that person leaves the room those negative words come out.”
Hawkins said that it is very important to have allies and people who support the community so when the “in-room phenomenon” happens, there will be people who will stand up and combat the negativity.
One thing that Hawkins said he is looking forward to at Martin’s presentation is gaining a real in-depth understanding of Pennsylvania and seeing what’s being done at the state level and some of the opposition that the state has faced in progressing the LGBT movement.
Students looking to get involved in the LGBT community at SRU are welcome to attend RockOUT meetings, which happen every Tuesday evening at 8 p.m. in the Women’s Center in the Smith Student Center.