Pride at Pierce

From gender-neutral bathrooms to preferred pronouns, a group was established Feb. 21 to strengthen LGBTQ communities at all LACCD campuses.

The Los Angeles Community College District created an LGBTQ Advisory Group which plans to meet regularly with the District.

Instructor of Psychology Angela Belden said that she hopes the LGBTQ Advisory Board will bring change to campus.

“I hope that they are able to address issues specific to this population,” Belden said. “I know that sometimes there’s a lack of social support at home for LGBT students [and] they tend to have a higher rate of victimization, so I hope they can address some of these issues and bring real services on campus.”

Chair of the Physics Department and Adviser to the Queer Brahma Collective Dale Fields said the LGBTQ Advisory Group is an important step in improving LGBTQ relations.

“One of the primary forces behind it is David Vela, the first openly queer member to serve on the Board [of Trustees],” Fields said.

Although no official plans or actions have been discussed yet, Pierce faculty members described their own hopes and aspirations about what the LGBTQ Advisory Group might achieve.

Fields said that he hopes an LGBTQ center can be created on campus.

“We’re looking for a safe place so we can help students. Some kind of refuge,” Fields said. “A place for information and getting to know other members of the communities.”

Faculty Chair and Adviser for the Queer Brahma Collective James McKeever agrees that an important step in improving LBGTQ relations would be creating a center that could act as a sanctuary for LGBTQ students.

“The concept of creating a safe space is very important,” McKeever said. “In the past it’s been extremely difficult because sometimes people invade that space. Some people aren’t going there for the right reasons. Some people, instead of going there to be supportive, are going there to rip and tear [LGBTQ members] down.”

Another issue that Fields believes should be addressed is more outreach for transgender students who have changed their names to fit their identities.

“It’s expensive in California to get your name legally changed and it’s a huge amount of work,” Fields said. “Students don’t have those resources or time.”

Fields said that Pierce has been trying to integrate these changed names in their classes and documents, but that the problem goes beyond the Pierce campus.

“We still don’t have any districtwide solution to this,” Fields said. “So, I’m hoping that the advisory group will help us.”

Another issue that the LACCD Advisory Board might look into involves gender-neutral bathrooms.

Director of the Health Center Beth Benne said that the LACCD Advisory Board should consider looking into this.

“I would think that gender-neutral bathrooms would be an issue,” Benne said. “That seems to be something that the LGBT community is very interested in, primarily for our transgender students who are transitioning from one gender to another.

Dale Fields said that there are currently a few gender-neutral bathrooms at Pierce.

“We’ve gotten some already,” Fields said. “But there aren’t really enough of those around campus.”

Fields said that the LGBTQ Advisory Board is an important step in improving LGBTQ recognition.

“We’ve had [LGBTQ] student clubs, but we also want something institutional,” Fields said. “[Something] that shows we have dedication from the LACCD itself, that says ‘this is important.’”