LGBTQ Programs Celebrate Pride Month, SCOTUS Decision

BENJAMIN NORMAN | THE SPECTRUM Pride alliance member Tony Birklid (left) and pride alliance president Grace Cabarle (right) sit in the LGBTQ Resource Center at the Alba Bales House on Wednesday. Pride Alliance meets at 7 p.m. Tuesdays.
BENJAMIN NORMAN | THE SPECTRUM
Pride alliance member Tony Birklid (left) and pride alliance president Grace Cabarle (right) sit in the LGBTQ Resource
Center at the Alba Bales House on Wednesday. Pride Alliance meets at 7 p.m. Tuesdays.

LGBT Pride Month is celebrated in October nationally as well as at North Dakota State.

The university hosts celebrations throughout the month, including personal story seminars, stand-up comedy and a Tri-College Drag Show.

The events coincide this year with the Supreme Court’s decision Monday to stop hearing additional gay marriage cases.

Indiana, Virginia, Utah, Oklahoma and Wisconsin will soon allow same-sex marriages. Although North Dakota is not immediately affected by the ruling, festivities will be held at NDSU regardless.

New York City-based comedian and college speaker Robin Cloud will feature the university’s events at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 23 at the McGovern Alumni Center Atrium.

“She is going to share her experience coming out as a teenager,” said Regina Ranney, the diversity program coordinator at NDSU. “That’s going to be a formal but humorous talk.”

Celebrations happen throughout the month, centering on Coming Out Day Saturday.

“The more LGBTQ events we have on campus, the more it makes our students that identify as LGBTQ feel welcomed and part of the community,” Ranney said.

Students may feel more comfortable to be open with themselves, especially with the inclusive events, Ranney said. This may make people feel more open toward those who identify as LGBTQ.

“People around them learn that a sister, a brother or best friend can identify as LGBTQ,” Ranney said. “Knowing people who identify as LGBTQ makes people be more apt to be allies.”

Kara Gravley-Stack, NDSU director and diversity initiatives coordinator of LGBTQ programs, said she applauds the Supreme Court’s decision.

“I think it is good the Supreme Court is allowing states to make some of these decisions in the cases of same-sex marriage,” Gravley-Stack said. “I am disappointed that North Dakota’s initiative wasn’t included in that (decision), but that was already addressed at the state level.”

Other states moving to legalize same-sex marriage is important, Gravley-Stack said.

“Even though we are not seeing significant chances in terms of legalizing gay marriage in the state of North Dakota, I think when see it in other states. That is progress,” Gravley-Stack said. “Even if it’s not directly progress here yet, it is changing the landscape.”

Gravley-Stack credits today’s young people to the changes. She believes millennial’s do not see same-sex marriage as taboo as older generations.

“I think the Millennial Generation is the generation that is going to change this,” Gravley-Stack said.

NDSU has done a good job including the LGBTQ community in campus life, Gravley-Stack said.

“I think NDSU has been a progressive leader with LGBT policies and practices,” Gravley-Stack said. “As a university, we amended our nondiscrimination statement to provide protections on the basis of sexual orientation, I believe, back in the ’80s.”

Ranney echoes Gravley-Stack’s words.

“I feel like NDSU is specifically trying to make strides in bringing programing that is supportive of LGBTQ students,” Ranney said.

She included LGBTQ matching through Residence Life and Safe Zone training as examples, along with future plans, such as the possibility for gender-neutral restrooms to be implemented in the new STEM building.

“There are still a lot of areas where there needs to be progress, but it’s a start,” Ranney said.

Gravley-Stack agrees.

“There are still things that we need to do,” Gravley-Stack said. “Sometimes just having things in policy doesn’t mean somebody isn’t experiencing having negative experiences … NDSU is doing a good job to the extent that it can.”

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