This past Wednesday, March 16, the social work honor society Phi Alpha and the LGBTQA Services teamed up to give students, faculty, and staff an opportunity to become a LGBTQA Ally.
The event was hosted in Brandywine Hall Room 003 from 7:30 to 9:30pm.
LGBTQA stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, and ally.
The Office of LGBTQA Services on campus provides information, resources, and support for programming to members of the university and community.
The unit was created in 1994 to assist students with issues related to sexual orientation and gender identity.
The LGBTQA Services trains faculty, staff and students to be allies to the LGBTQA campus community, and the training includes two parts.
Part one, which is referred to as LGBTQA 101, is an hour-long training session that provides participants with an overview of the LGBTQA history, terms, and current issues.
Some of the current issues that were discussed were LGBTQA youth homelessness, violence against LGBTQA community, job security, employment discrimination, and health care.
Part two provides LGBTQA 101 “graduates” with the understanding and resources to be an advocate and ally to LGBTQA student, faculty, and staff.
Allies are provided with an online manual and a door sticker identifying them as an LGBTQA Ally.
Typically parts one and two of the workshops are done separately, but the Phi Alpha and the LGBTQA Ally services decided to do both in one night so it would be easier for the students in attendance.
Once becoming an Ally, this means that people are providing a safe space for anyone dealing with issues in relation to sexual orientation and gender identity and expression.
They are there to provide resources and referrals to the best of their ability.
Carly Graziadei, who is a senior social work student and president of Phi Alpha, describes that an Ally must be committed to “being a good and empathic listener, continuously educating yourself on current ‘isms’ and phobias, always working towards social justice, and treating everyone with the dignity and respect they are entitled to as human beings.”
According to Graziadei, she walked away from the training program “with a new perspective, respect, and knowledge of the LGBTQA community.”
“This class provided me the awareness, knowledge, and skills to take action and advocate,” said Graziadei. “It was very interactive, fun and comfortable, and I highly recommend taking these courses and becoming an Ally.”
Phi Alpha also hosted this event last year, and Graziadei says that they will continue to host one every spring, and that the social work program and LGBTQA community at West Chester have close ties.
According to Graziadei, coming an Ally was a necessity.
“I’m in my final year of pursuing a career in the field of social work. As a future social worker I continuously advocate for social justice,” said Graziadei. “It is my view that everyone deserves equal rights and opportunities. The LGBTQ community to this day experiences a lot of oppression and discrimination. Becoming an ally has educated me on how I can advocate for this community and the issues that they constantly face.”
Although Phi Alpha will not be partnering up with the LGBTQA services to host another “two-in-one” Ally training until next spring, the LGBTQA Services will be hosting multiple LGBTQA 101 sessions and Ally Training throughout this semester.
If anyone is interested in more information about the dates and registration, they can visit http:://wcupa.edu/_services/stu.lgb/ally.asp.
Devin Gerber is a fourth-year student majoring in communcation studies with a minor in journalism. They can be reached at DG781831@wcupa.edu