PRIDE attends Creating Change conference, sets focus on LGBT outreach

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PRIDE attends Creating Change conference, sets focus on LGBT outreach

Each of the four members of PRIDE that attended Creating Change are hoping to incorporate their experiences of the conference into PRIDE presence on campus.

Each of the four members of PRIDE that attended Creating Change are hoping to incorporate their experiences of the conference into PRIDE presence on campus.

Each of the four members of PRIDE that attended Creating Change are hoping to incorporate their experiences of the conference into PRIDE presence on campus.

Each of the four members of PRIDE that attended Creating Change are hoping to incorporate their experiences of the conference into PRIDE presence on campus.

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PRIDE, a recognized LGBTQ student organization, has historically had difficulties at St. Edward’s University because of its Catholic affiliation.

However, this year, Student Life funded four PRIDE students and their faculty advisor Alex Barron so they could attend Creating Change, a national conference on LGBT equality that was held Feb. 4-8 in Denver, Colo.

The annual conference is the largest annual gathering of activists, organizers and leaders in the LGBT movement, including students from other Catholic universities.

“When I went to Creating Change for the first time two years ago, I was reminded that a lot of schools, even Catholic schools, have more support for their LGBT students than we do,” Barron said. “Some of them have GSCs, or Gender and Sexuality Centers, or LGBT centers — actual physical spaces. Some of them have minors or majors in LGBT studies; most of them have Safe Space programs or Allies programs, so we don’t have those things.”

Barron hopes that PRIDE will continue to grow on campus and receive more structural support facilities for its students.

“Our school is really supportive on an individual level. I think everybody on this campus wants every student to be welcome and feel good, but I don’t think we’ve always done other structural things,” Barron said. “So I wanted our students to see that at the Creating Change conference, to see other student activists, because I hoped it would help them think about this campus, maybe how we measured up, how we maybe could do better.”

Each of the four members that attended Creating Change sat in on a variety of workshops, and they are hoping to incorporate their experiences of the conference into PRIDE presence on campus.

“The workshops I attended provided me with tools and tricks to bring back to PRIDE, and we plan to implement them at future meetings. Plus, the experience as a whole has really motivated me to make a change to the St. Edward’s campus as a whole,” Ignacio Lopez, program director for PRIDE, said.

Although the focus varies from year to year, PRIDE directors are choosing to focus more on outreach this semester.

“We’ve been contacting professors and sharing events during classes. We’ve been in contact with a couple of other student organizations, and we’ve got a few on our minds that we would like to come in contact with,” Lopez said.

The problem, as stated in its charter, is that PRIDE is not allowed to advocate, which can become an issue because there is a fine line between education and advocacy.

“I’ve been asked by fellow students about why PRIDE doesn’t do more on campus. As a student, there’s only so much I can do. Plus, leading a queer organization at St. Edward’s isn’t always easy,” Lopez said. “When we’re coming up with events and need to send them in for approval, we typically have to be careful with our use of words, because we don’t want to come off as trying to advocate for queerness.”

After returning from the conference, PRIDE directors are determined to make big changes to community facilities and programs for LGBT students on campus. They plan to meet with Dean Catherine “Kay” Michael to start talking about creating foundational outlets for LGBT students.

“St. Edward’s acts like they’re so progressive, but they’re really not. Students are very accepting, and faculty, but as far as outlets for LGBT, or anybody who’s part of a marginalized group, to go to — we don’t have the resources,” PRIDE secretary Jeslyn Schuh said.

“We don’t have somebody we can go and talk to, (and) we have to go figure it out on our own. I understand (change) is a process. It’s frustrating, but hopefully it will get done.”

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