Palomar College has a diverse and open community of LGBTQA students and staff who can be visible with the many signs around campus advertising the pride center and the Gender Sexuality Alliance club; but students can still run into issues that pose conflict to their identity.
President of Palomar’s Gender Sexuality Alliance (GSA), Iman Usman, said that even though same sex marriage is legalized, it doesn’t prevent bullying, bigotry, or hatred on . This is why Usman and GSA have formed a committee to improve and create safe spaces across Palomar’s campus for LGBTQA students.
“There are some people on campus who do not think too highly of LGBT people, and the safe spaces give LGBT people an opportunity to relax without judgment of people on campus,” GSA secretary Kyle Radwansky said. “Safe spaces are important to LGBT plus students because it gives them a safe space to express their gender, identity and their sexuality. It’s important they have a space where they know people that are going through the same struggles as they are.”
These areas have trained staff who have an understanding of the issues LGBTQA people have. From health, to understanding social stigmas, these staff members can connect with students.
Starting back when the LGBTQA club was running, prior to its inactivity and name change, the club asked professors and other staff members to make a promise to listen and help guide students who were struggling with issues regarding their identity. Those who were actively open to this promise placed a safe space sticker on their doors to let students know they could find council there.
“Everywhere you see the sticker it is unexpected because you can’t tell if someone is gay, transgender, or an ally,” Usman said. “People say ‘I have gaydar’ but it’s not a measure of diversity that is visible to the naked eye. I feel that when you see those stickers it is like a hidden treasure.”
Because being apart of the LGBTQA community is not something that can be easily viss recognized, many who are not apart of the LGBTQA community may not know the struggles individuals in the community face.
Usman said this is why it is important for staff to go through safe space training.
“Safe space training brings awareness to what LGBT people go through, how to supportive, and how to be an ally,” Usman said. “Being an ally is the most important part of safe space training.”
Usman said that Palomar is big and there are so many resources, and it is easy for individuals to feel lost in the crowd. She said safe space stickers should direct people to the right channels if they are feeling lost in the crowd.
“I honestly think that would be great to having every single professor go through that safe space training,” Usman said. “Especially because students have been misgendered and outed as transgender in their classes. It would be an excellent opportunity to change a misunderstanding into educating.”
Usman finds that issues like this make it most important for the safe space movement to stay relevant and to grow.
“I don’t want to see those stickers and think of this fragmented past legacy the LGBTQA had,” Usman said. “I want it to be persistent and long lasting.”
- GSA 2016: Noah Callahan/The Telescope | All Rights Reserved