Expanding acceptance

For almost 10 years, UVSC has had a Gay Straight Alliance club, and almost all of the members have been gay or bisexual. Now is the time, said club President Austin Smith, for straight people who share a strong belief in human rights to join also.

Smith, who has been president of the club since the spring semester, notes that in a conservative culture like the one in Utah County, people are sometimes content with not standing up for what they believe in.

"In general, the people that I have met are not outwardly mean towards gays and lesbians," says Smith, "Mostly there is widespread ignorance. They don’t think that anyone they know is gay. I try to always be open to people, to try and answer questions they have."

The club, which meets on Thursday nights at 6 p.m. does group activities and service projects in the community. They also discuss topics of interest to the gay and lesbian community. One of the issues that they feel straight people don’t think about is that of equal recognition for same sex couples in the eyes of the law.

"If a couple is engaged and one gets rushed to the hospital, the fiancé has a right to be by the bedside and receive information from the doctor, even though they are not married," stated Smith. "If my partner were to be injured and sent to the hospital, I don’t have the same right. There are some very basic rights that straight people take for granted."

Smith is saddened that gays don’t feel like there is safety in our community to date out in public. He thinks that this leads to a lot of promiscuity and disease in the gay community. He hopes for a day when gay couples feel they are safe to be seen out for a Friday night date with their partner.

Smith also noted that there is growing support for people in the gay and lesbian community. A group called Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG), has a program called "Straight for Equality." It is an initiative aimed at awareness and fairness. To take the pledge for human rights, log on to www.straightforequality.org

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