Texas A&M Recognizes Pride Month, Importance Of Supporting LGBTQ+ Aggies
June is Pride Month, and according to Frances Jackson (they/them/theirs), coordinator at the Texas A&M University LGBTQ+ Pride Center, the occasion is an opportunity to reflect on the history of the gay rights movement and to celebrate the mosaic of cultures at the university and beyond.
“This month represents not only a way to learn about the history of LGBTQ+ people and where we have been, but also where we’re going and the work that still needs to be done,” Jackson said. “And it’s a celebration. So many people live with invisible identities. It’s a way of showing that there are other people like you, so let’s come together and celebrate what a beautiful diaspora of culture that’s here.”
The university’s Pride Center, which is housed within the Offices of the Dean of Student Life within the Division of Student Affairs, has announced a variety of events throughout the month, including Pride Live, a panel discussion series that is broadcast on Facebook Live. The next edition in the series is “The Relationship Spectrum,” June 15 from 6-7 p.m. featuring representatives from the Texas A&M Office of Health Promotion, Counseling & Psychological Services (CAPS) and the Sexual Assault Resource Center. The discussion will focus on Interpersonal Violence Prevention and its rising trend during the current pandemic.
Other planned events include weekly trivia and virtual book displays, in partnership with Texas A&M University Libraries; “Let’s Talk (Online),” in partnership with CAPS; and “Life Beyond Aggieland: Being an Ally to the LGBTQ+ Community,” a discussion hosted by Aggie Allies about how to be an active and engaged ally to LGBTQ+ Aggies.
Having just one adult ally decreases the chances of an LGBTQ+ youth committing suicide by 40 percent ~ The Trevor Project
According to Aggie Allies, there are about 1,500 allies on campus and far more who have taken the group’s workshops.
Allies are extremely valuable to LGBTQ+ students, Jackson said, referring to a 2019 study by The Trevor Project, which found that having just one adult ally decreases the chances of an LGBTQ+ youth committing suicide by 40 percent.
“We know that the suicide rate for the trans community is nine times the average and we see mental health concerns at a higher rate within the community,” Jackson said. “And that’s not because there is anything is wrong with them. It’s because there is a culture of hiding and shame.”
Having organizations such as the Pride Center, Aggie Allies and events like those happening this month help to bring acceptance. “And after acceptance comes celebration,” Jackson said.
The Pride Center at Texas A&M has a threefold mission, they said:
- The center provides education for the broader Texas A&M community, keeping them up to date on trends, history and related issues.
- It offers community building, providing a safe space for students, allies and former students
- It works to help with retention and student success.
The center, Jackson said, is no different from the other student-centered offices on campus.
“We know students are going to experience a variety of challenges in their lives, so it’s about being supportive in any way we can, as all the student-centered offices on campus do to contribute to student success,” Jackson said.
This month was chosen as Pride Month because it was in June of 1969 that the Stonewall Riots occurred in New York City’s Greenwich Village. Last year marked the 50th anniversary of the riots, which many historians agree shaped the modern fight for LGBTQ+ rights.
Jackson said much progress has been made since then, including the 2015 ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court which made same-sex marriage legal nationwide.
“That was a big step forward, but by no means are equal rights inherent,” Jackson said. “We are still waiting on current Supreme Court decision on LGBT employment.”
For a full list of Texas A&M’s Pride Month events, visit the LGBTQ+ Pride Center website.