Editorial: Rider shows growth in LGBTQ acceptance

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ifferences are characteristics that set people apart from one another and what make us unique. Our whole lives, we are told being different makes us special and is a positive thing that builds who we are. Yet, throughout history, we as a society have oppressed those groups of people who are not like us. 

The U.S. has certainly come a long way from this mentality, as people come together with more acceptance for people of different ethnicities and sexual orientation. Following suit, Rider has become a more welcoming place for people to express who they are and to be accepted no matter their sexual orientation.

Being at such a diverse institution, we are constantly meeting people who are different from ourselves. We live, eat and coexist with students who may be from another country, have a different ethnicity or who may be lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or questioning (LGBTQ), and it is something that should be embraced.

In supporting this community at Rider, clubs such as Spectrum Pride Alliance, formerly known as Gay Straight Alliance (GSA), exist to help make LGBTQ students feel more comfortable with being who they are and know there are other students struggling with the same thing. There is also the Rider Ally Program, which is a support system for the LGBTQ community. These organizations are a great way to show students who may feel that they don’t belong or that others don’t accept them that it’s OK to be themselves. They also help to create a safe environment for all students to live in.

The presence of Rider’s first gay chaplain Rev. Katie Mulligan, shows that even society has started accepting gays and lesbians in positions of moral leadership. It is a great step into the future of treating everyone equally.

According to a recent survey sent out to the student body through email this past week, the majority of gay students said that they feel comfortable on campus. Of the 585 students who participated, 58% feel that the campus generally welcomes gays and 96% know someone who is gay. All these things come together to solidify how far the university has come in gaining respect for others.

While overall, the LGBTQ community feels accepted, 18% of those students still feel unwelcome here.

Students still find themselves reverting back to old ways everyday, without even realizing it. It has become almost a part of our culture and especially a part of our day-to-day speech to say derogatory terms in a joking and casual manner. When something is thought of as dumb or silly, it is often referred to as “gay.” The words come out of our mouths quicker than we can even think about what we are actually saying or who around us we are affecting.

When asked if students hear derogatory terms used around campus and how often they do, 83% said they hear those words used and 22% of that group hears them used two or more times a week. Behind these words are hate and every time someone says them, we distance ourselves from our peers and the people we are working toward becoming.

It can be easy to let phrases like that slip. Try to notice each day if you say or hear things, like “That’s gay.” You may be surprised how often you do, but you can easily help put a stop to it.

While the Rider community still has work to do to become fully accepting of others, we have overall come a long way to be united as a university despite our differences.

 

The weekly editorial expresses the majority opinion of The Rider News. This week’s editorial was written by Opinion Editor Kristy Grinere.

Printed in the 2/22/13 edition.
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