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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, October 29, 2010 - Volume 38 Issue 44
LGBT club making a difference at Highline Community College
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LGBT club making a difference at Highline Community College

by Shaun Knittel - SGN Associate Editor

The members of People Respecting Individuals and Sexual Minorities (PRISM), an LGBTQI student club at Highline Community College in Des Moines, Washington, tell Seattle Gay News they intend to continue making a difference at their school by providing visibility and offer training to students and faculty alike.

Mandy Mineard and Josh Magallanes, co-advisers for PRISM, said it is important to have an LGBTQI club at Highline because it not only establishes them as a cultural club, but provides Queer students with a safe space within academia.

'Diversity is so important in colleges across the country because it provides awareness of a diverse population outside the walls of the institution, and because the support comes from within the institution from administration and faculty, we send the message that we are not going to merely tolerate multiculturalism but also promote it and celebrate it,' Josh and Mandy told SGN in a written statement.

The closer we get to normalcy, they said, the closer we get to acceptance.

Pablo Monroy, a PRISM club member, says that Highline is very culturally diverse - the most diverse in the state, in fact - so he feels it is important to maintain that spirit of diversity by having a club that represents the LGBTQI community.

Ever corner of the country has its differences, from the way we talk, to the environment around us, said Pablo. This difference we share unites us. Those stuck in places in the country that don't respect them for who they are, we have to unite with them, reach out to them. In a college environment, they leave their comfort of home and begin to become who they want to become. Having a safe environment to do that is why clubs like PRISM are important.

To show their presence, PRISM set up a Coming Out of the Closet table on National Coming Out Day. PRISM officials say that the visibility of their tabling provided a very important opportunity to sign up new members, meet with students who came out of the closet that very day, and meet with allies.

Devyn D., a PRISM club member and straight ally, told SGN, I have met other allies but, honestly, not as many as I would like.

Pablo said the tabling event was an eye-opening experience. I was in a world where I thought people moved past homophobia, and while many had, it was surprising to see those who scoffed at our table and looked at us with disgust, he said. Some looked curious and wanted to come up to our table, but were stuck with friends and seemed afraid to leave the bubble. It was for those people that I was there - to show that it is OK to come out.

Pablo, a new student at Highline and openly Gay Navy veteran, says that he is finding more and more Gay allies every day.

Devyn, Josh, Mandy and Pablo - along with the other members and supporters of PRISM - are looking towards the future and are ready to roll up their sleeves and continue working on making Highline Community College as safe for LGBTQI students as possible.

We've made strides, but we need to continue the fight for acceptance and equality for multiculturalism, concluded PRISM officials.

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