Over the past few days, each of us have grieved the loss of 49 lives and the injury of over 50 more in the horrific Pulse Night Club massacre. We want to express our sorrow and extend our sympathy to the victims, their family, friends, and loved ones, and to all LGBTQ+ individuals in every corner of our world. On a weekend that was full of events celebrating Pride Month and the LGBTQ+ community, we had a grim reminder of how much work there is left to do.
At this time, the facts seem to clearly indicate that this was a violent, deranged act of terrorism and a direct and deliberant hate crime to the LGBTQ+ community and their allies. In the wake of an atrocity such as this, we are reminded of the importance of our role as educators, supporters, and allies. Being an educator means having a sacred responsibility to our students to continue to stand and fight for social justice and to end discrimination. We have the privilege to provide a beacon of steady light in times as dark as this.
In order to help you fulfill your duties as an educator as best as possible, we partnered with the GLBT Resource Center at Texas A&M University to provide you with straightforward, pragmatic techniques and tools. We hope these points are useful for you for engaging in conversation and fulfilling your roles of support around this topic for your LGBTQ+ students, colleagues, family members, and friends:
1) Reach out.
Engage with your LGBTQ+ students, colleagues, family members, and friends, and just listen. When folks tell you what they are experiencing, trust them; do not force feelings on them that you believe they should be going through. Everyone experiences the aftermath of an event such as this differently; we do not all share the same narrative.
2) Remind people that they belong.
This event stole one of the kinds of spaces that the LGBTQ+ community felt at home. They might need to have space on campus or in the workplace created for them. They might choose to congregate elsewhere. Empower their journey to belong in whatever space they need during this time of chaos.
3) Speak up and speak out.
Members of the LGBTQ+ community may feel less safe defending themselves and speaking up against bigotry than they normally would; this will be even more true for folks with intersecting identities, like our Latinx and trans kin. Be a proper ally and stand up for what’s right. It may be uncomfortable, it may alienate people at first, but it is worth it 10 times over. Recognize your position of power and influence, and your responsibility to use it to create a safer world.
4) Donate blood and plasma.
No matter your location and not just now. Make a habit of it. If your health allows it, donate as often as possible – every 3-4 months. Donate blood on behalf of the gay men across the country that are not permitted to help their community due to outdated, fear-based bans.
5) Hope and love onward.
Remember that hope and love are the messages for healing. Remember the out members of our community need support as well as the folks who cannot be out for any number of reasons. We love and appreciate our allies and value the support you give the LGBTQ+ community.
We at CAMPUSPEAK stand with Orlando and with all of you. We will continue to fight to end hate, discrimination, and intolerance; we know that each of you are doing this work every day on campuses across the country and we thank you for that.
Need Someone to Talk to (or know someone who does)?
1) The Disaster Distress Helpline – 1-800-985-5990
The Helpline can provide immediate counseling to anyone who needs help in dealing with the tragic event in Orlando Florida. The Helpline is a 24/7 resource that responds to people who need crisis counseling after experiencing a natural or man-made disaster or tragedy.
The helpline can also be accessed at http://disasterdistress.samhsa.gov
and TTY for deaf and hearing impaired: 1-800-846-8517.
2) The Trevor Project is also providing support at 1-866-488-7386 and
thetrevorproject.org. They are particularly good with youth.