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For the Record: LGBTQ+ community shares experiences on Springfield College campus

By The Springfield Student Staff
@TheSpfldStudent

Over the month of December, The Springfield Student will be surveying the LGBTQ+ community on campus. Springfield College prides itself on being an all-inclusive environment, and has made several positive strides in doing so. The school has outright stated that there is no place for racism, misogyny and homophobia in its community. But there’s no doubt that isolated instances of all this still exist, and it seems to be especially apparent within the LGBTQ+ community.

We asked several members, some of which chose to remain anonymous, two simple questions:

Do you feel comfortable on our campus as an LGBTQ+ person? 

Do you think SC is a safe place for LGBTQ+ students? Why or why not?

Here are some of the responses we got:

“I generally feel safe, but sometimes not comfortable on campus in regards to my sexuality. There are times that I feel unsafe and uncomfortable in regards to my gender, but that was when I was living on campus. Just going to classes, I feel generally safe and most times comfortable. I would say that the way people, especially male students, throw around words like fag and gay make me feel unwelcome and uncomfortable. And you know me, I pass as male, but I definitely do not pass as straight most of the time. So, I definitely feel like other students distance themselves from me because all the people that have wanted to talk to me have been LGBTQ+ or identify as an ally, so people that I would assume are less educated or aware about LGBTQ issues tend to shy away from me or avoid me. And I definitely felt unsafe at times while living on campus because of how unwelcome I felt at times. Like some of the guys on my floor would be super overly friendly to me in a way that I knew that they weren’t actually being friendly. Like one time a guy grabbed my shoulder and kind of shook it and I forget what he said but it was something to the effect of ‘Hey Dude’ or ‘Hey Buddy.’ And it just felt threatening to me. There was also a time in Cheney where a worker asked me if I was a boy or girl which made me really uncomfortable” – Anonymous 

“I am not out of the closet, so I can’t really say. I feel like some of my friends who are open with their sexuality/gender are a little scared, especially if they are not an athlete, or in a less popular major. I’m not sure how others would feel if they knew about my sexuality, and I fear that I would be treated differently if they really knew. And this isn’t just at SC, but anywhere.” – Anonymous

“I think SC as a whole tries its best to promote a safe space for LGBT+ people. However, I am not exactly comfortable expressing myself on campus because of the minority of people who try to make it unsafe for us. I know that we have a faculty that promotes inclusion and equality for all students. However, it is the small group of anti-LGBT students that make me uncomfortable. Faculty can not protect us in the dorms. They can not protect us in the locker rooms. They can not protect us from things that happen after dark on campus.” – Chloe Campellone, Class of 2022

“I do not feel comfortable as an LGBTQ+ person on campus. While if you are not outwardly LGBTQ on campus, no one will give you any problems. However, if you are open about being LGBTQ on campus, both professors and students tend to give you problems. Because I am transgender, I have to constantly tell everyone my preferred names and pronouns. Professors will often make a big deal out of it (not using correct name, constantly using wrong pronouns, treating me differently because I ‘look’ queer, etc.) which makes classes more awkward. In addition, while I have changed my name in the Pridenet, my preferred name rarely shows up in any place on Pridenet, and my professors never know my preferred name unless I tell them (and some won’t even acknowledge it, and continue to use a name me or any other trans person on campus is uncomfortable with). While I never felt in danger, I often feel like an outcast and I do not belong unless I conform to the ‘sporty straight’ aesthetic.” – Kayden, Class of 2023

“I feel comfortable because I am able to easily conceal my LGBTQ+ identity. I think that SC is a space full of many people who quietly support the community, but no place feels truly safe. We’re kind of invisible at SC, despite the efforts to be seen. Sometimes that is safer.” – Anonymous

“At first, I was not comfortable at all. I did not find this a welcoming place, but also I was not expecting to walk into a welcoming place. Being a very athletically driven school in Western Mass., I was not expecting to be greeted by a vibrant, diverse population of LGBTQ individuals and I wasn’t. There are very few LGBTQ individuals at this college and that does make it difficult, as I feel alienated from socialization with others in the community. One of the most disheartening experiences was as a freshman walking to one of my very first college parties with some friends and hearing someone very loudly and pronounced say “look at this faggot walking in front of us” and hearing all of him and his friends both males and females laugh. Along with hearing upperclassmen on my very own sports team refer to each other and myself in a group as “gay” or “faggots.” This is mistreatment I have experienced all my life and I wasn’t expecting anything different, but that does not and will never make it right. But throughout my years here my attitudes did change. I made friends and met people who loved me and not only supported me, but took action to stand up for me. And having a coach who is also a member of the LGBTQ community has made such a massive impact. Knowing that this coach is there for me, and can relate to me on this level is nothing I have ever experienced before and is so comforting, uplifting, and empowering and I am grateful for that coach and for this school for giving me this. Though to get back to the question, initially I did not feel comfortable here but now as a senior with the friends and support system I have now I am comfortable, but it is sad that it took me four years to be where I am now, I wish that was different. Though in terms of safety, I will answer that question like this: do I think this school is inclusive, yes, but do I think it is supportive, no. SC provides space for inclusivity and to accept all, but implementing that into practice is where the struggle comes into play.” – Damian Mackay-Morgan, Class of 2021

As the month progresses, we plan to publish more investigative stories into these matters, and have more guest writers on the topic. Every story is important. If you have one to share, please contact anyone on the editorial staff, or email springfieldstudent@springfieldcollege.edu

Featured Photo: Heidi Schuman/The Student

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