GLOW responds to homophobia

Nicole Capozziello

A month since incidents of gay hate sprung up around campus, occurrences that were upsetting and appalling to many Lawrentians, Lawrence’s gay-straight alliance GLOW is in the midst of a response. Starting mid-October, the group has been organizing a counteractive response, distributing small, vibrantly colored signs, which send a message of support for LGBTQ — Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer — students. “It was necessary and appropriate for GLOW to respond and to have a campus-wide response,” said junior Mike Korcek, president of GLOW.
Shortly after the acts of harassment, initially targeting a student in Plantz Hall, President Beck sent out a campus-wide e-mail not only to inform students of these incidents but also “to publicly denounce these actions.” President Beck concluded the e-mail, sent out on Friday Oct. 3, with a reminder affirming that hate and discrimination will not be tolerated at Lawrence.
In the past, Lawrence has been regarded as a notoriously accepting and supportive environment for LGBTQ students, even being voted the eighth most gay-friendly campus in the nation in The Princeton Review’s 2006 book “The Best 361 Colleges.” Though Lawrence’s rank has since dropped to 17th in 2008, the administration’s immediate and firm response demonstrates the importance of acceptance on campus.
After brainstorming potential responses to this incident, one group member came up with the idea of these signs, intended to send an opposing message of acceptance. “We wanted to do something visible and comparable to the slander committed on other’s personal space,” said Korcek.
The signs, intended to be hung on students’ doors and wherever else they want to hang them read: “I support my LGBTQ friends and classmates! This is a safe space of individuals who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, or questioning their sexuality to express themselves and be treated with respect.”
GLOW has also invited other groups to get involved, sending out an e-mail to the leaders of other campus organizations. “We wanted to show that GLOW is not the only group that cares and people in GLOW are not the only people affected by this.” Representatives of other campus organizations, ranging from Anime Club to the Interfraternity Council, have been tabling along with GLOW members to hand out the signs. In addition, Korcek states that student organizations have shown support by distributing the fliers on their own and bringing the issue up in meetings. Professor Megan Pickett, GLOW advisor, also took a shift, lending a hand in the initiative.
“Many people are invested in this,” said Korcek, with a smile. The organization hopes that the movement will continue with the presence of these signs making a quiet statement around campus. The signs will also be available in the Diversity Center and at the front desk of each residence hall.