Every year, the month of June marks Gay Pride Month. Pride Month commemorates the Stonewall Inn riots that took place in Manhattan, New York in 1969 and the steps that the LGBTQ+ community took to fight for their rights. Back then, homosexuality was considered a mental disorder by the American Psychological Association and it was still illegal for members of the LGBTQ+ community to meet in public. This made bars who catered to the LGBTQ+ community prone to regular law enforcement repercussions. In retaliation, the Stonewall Inn riots were spontaneous demonstrations with an ongoing victory that is still celebrated even 50 years later.
Though not everyone feels connected to what happened on June 28th, 1969 in Manhattan, we must remember what the true meaning of what the month-long anniversary of the Stonewall Inn riots really celebrates –– the breakthrough of inclusion for all. Whether it’s the LGBTQ+ community, people of color, women, underrepresented communities, etc. it’s important for us to promote inclusivity on our own campuses where so that everyone feels welcome and supported.
The idea of being inclusive in college doesn’t mean you have to produce extravagant gestures or plan hugely budgeted events. There are small things we can do every day to ensure all of those around us feel welcome. Inclusivity on any scale makes a difference, and it starts with us as individuals. Here’s a checklist of three things you can accomplish on your campus to make it more inclusive for everybody:
Be Appreciative of Diversity
In the world of higher education, diverse groups of people usually result in myriads of ideas. Having diversity in a classroom setting ensures differing perspectives, ultimately meaning a brand-new opportunity for you to learn.
Become an Ally
Find out what organizations, clubs, or offices are on your campus that you can use to get involved. At Florida Atlantic University, there are offices like The Center for Inclusion, Diversity, Education, and Advocacy (IDEAs) which promotes the growth of traditionally underserved students, or Multicultural Programming, which is charged with the responsibility of creating programs to enrich multiculturalism on campus. For example, my campus, Florida Atlantic University, is also the founding University of the Lambda Alpha Lambda diaternity, which welcomes men, women, and members of the LGBTQ+ community. On your very own campus, find out which offices you can get involved with to diversify your time there. I promise –– it makes all the difference!
Start a Dialogue/Conversation
It’s important to remember that it’s possible to be inclusive of people that you don’t necessarily agree with. Sometimes what subconsciously prevents us from building those connections is a lack of understanding or communication. Be bold and catalyze a dialogue that builds bridges between different people on campus, regardless of their interests.