About 40 people from the University of Arizona joined 50 other universities in a nationwide protest in support of Title IX enforcement at religious universities.
The Strike Out Queerphobia National Campus Walkout took place in front of the Administration Building in the Free Speech Zone on October 11.
“Today we walked out of the universities that let us down as LGBTQ+ students, today we walked out so we could step into a revolution demanding the rights we all deserve as students in the United States. States of America,” ASUA Pride Alliance intern Sage Crosby said during his speech.
Pride Alliance is an on-campus organization that works to provide a safe and inclusive environment for LGBTQ+ students and is located in the LGBTQ+ Resource Center.
Crosby spearheaded the strike and had reserved the space for the protest. Crosby said the TikTok group The Black Menaces, which frequently surveys other Brigham Young University students, started a broader movement after seeing how gay individuals were discriminated against.
Students participating in the walkout held up signs and gave speeches outlining their own personal feelings about how gay students can and should be protected from discrimination.
Mikah Rosanova, co-director of Pride Alliance, said the main purpose of the protest was solidarity with gay students facing discrimination on religious campuses. Currently, several religious universities receiving federal funding are applying for Title IX exemptions across the country.
Title IX, part of the Education Amendments of 1972, prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in educational institutions and programs that receive federal government funding.
Rosanova also noted that the AU has certain structural deficiencies that are detrimental to the LGBTQ+ community.
“It’s hard to be a trans person who’s actively trying to transition through college,” Rosanova said.
Rosanova explained the current lack of gender-neutral bathrooms or how the location of these bathrooms can be inconvenient or lacking in accessibility for some students. In addition to this issue, some UA students who decide to change their name have difficulty obtaining their school-issued ID or other documentation to reflect the change.
A student’s government-issued ID must reflect the name change before the AU will allow the name change on its records. Several members of the trans community have expressed how harmful this can be as it forces individuals to see their dead names frequently.
Along with sentiments about how the UA could better support the trans community, students held their freshly made signs with other phrases demanding respect and change for students suffering on campuses elsewhere in the United States.
“One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight protect Title IX!” and “No exceptions, no excuses to fund phobic institutions,” echoed through the union as Jarmon Floyd led the group down the stairwell.
The crowd marched to the LGBTQ+ Resource Center for lunch and a discussion, with UA freshman Jarmon Floyd leading chants through a megaphone.
“Currently, some schools — primarily religious schools — are not complying with Title IX. Even if they don’t follow it, they’re still getting federal funding, which we don’t think is fair,” Floyd said.
UA sophomore Ruben Reynoso agreed, describing his personal connection to the issue.
“Growing up in Utah in an extremely Mormon and religious school that blatantly discriminated against LGBTQ+ students…as someone who experienced that discrimination, my heart really goes out to those students,” he said.
Many participants appreciated the resources that the AU provides – especially in relation to the federally funded religious schools against which they advocate. The most common was the LGBTQ+ Resource Center.
“The cultural centers are very helpful, especially the LGBTQRC and the Women and Gender Resource Center. These have a lot of resources for transgender, non-binary people…all under the umbrella,” Floyd said.
Reynoso also mentioned the LGBTQRC.
“I’m happy that [UA] provided us with a queer lounge to relax and have a separate space from campus,” he said.
Participants also shared some things they thought the university could do better in terms of supporting LGBTQ+ students.
“While we have [resource centers], few people still know them. I was surprised when I came here because there will be sophomores and juniors like, ‘oh, what is WGRC?’” Floyd explained.
FORCE, short for Feminists Organized to Resist, Create and Empower, is a student organization and internship program within the WGRC. FORCE and Pride Alliance are two organizations with resources for students looking for community on campus.
For more information on University of Arizona LGBTQ+ resources, see LGBTQ Business Resources.
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