Berry College's LGBT student group, LISTEN, has gone purple for #SpiritDay! This year, LISTEN is showing support for LGBT youth and standing against bullying as an official student group at Berry College for the first time after more than a decade of advocating for full recognition. Rebekah Ingram, president of LISTEN, writes about the history of the student group and why they are particpating in Spirit Day below:
For eighteen years, straight allies and members of Berry College’s LGBT community have struggled to gain equal standing as an officially recognized student organization on campus. After a heinous hate crime that included both gay and racial slurs occurred on campus in the spring of 2012, an outcry of support for an officially recognized LGBT-alliance group rose up on the campus. A petition was created on Change.org, protests were held in the student activities center, and social media sites were constructed towards the goal of full recognition of this group. After much deliberation and debate, President Briggs sent an email announcing the official recognition of LISTEN Berry on September 13, 2012.
Eighteen years later, we have won equality.
Becoming an official student group is a momentous victory for the students at Berry College. The ability to have access to funds for events and speakers to engage the community and educate about LGBT issues is an incredible opportunity, and we believe it is absolutely vital to the health and wellbeing of our student body. One of our main goals as a group is to promote equality, tolerance, and create a safe place for LGBT individuals. That is why today, October 19, LISTEN Berry is going purple for Spirit Day! We are thrilled to officially join millions of people nationwide to speak out against bullying, and to show our support for those identifying as LGBT.
This past week, we have sponsored a table in our student activities center for GLESN’s Ally Week, giving out educational materials and asking students to take the pledge to help end bullying and anti-gay harassment. We are thrilled for the week to be culminating with GLAAD’s Spirit Day as a way to celebrate and stand with our LGBT community. At our LISTEN Berry meeting on Thursday, we decorated purple t-shirts to wear saying things like “GLAAD Spirit Day” and “we stand with LGBT victims of bullying”, and will be wearing them loud and proud all day today in union with countless others nationwide. In addition, our social media sites will be “going purple” by adding the GLAAD twibbon feature, and we will be sponsoring a table in our student activities center promoting Spirit Day.
By speaking up and taking a stand against bullying and harassment, we hope that a hate crime like the one that spurred on the final fight to become official never happens again on our campus or anywhere else. We are thrilled to be going purple for Spirit Day, and are happy to be officially joining others nationwide.