As long as discrimination and intolerance exist against marginalized sexual orientations and gender identifications, clubs such as Spectrum have a role to fill.
The LGBTQI community in Utah faces many uphill battles. Locally, the social and political landscape is not always attuned to the rights and needs of this diverse convergence of people.
Members of 2011 Wolverine Achievement Award Club of the Year finalist, UVU Spectrum, are attempting to change that.
UVU Spectrum, helmed by Frey Seagrove and Ronni Sorensen, is a student organization that works tirelessly to combat ignorance and intolerance, both on and off campus. Spectrum members’ current hurdle is the anti-discrimination policy here at the university, which they are attempting to convince administration to amend so it protects students from being discriminated against due to factors like sexual orientation and gender identity.
The goal of the proposed change is simply this: Make the university an accepting environment in which all students can be themselves without facing discrimination or ridicule.
Spectrum activities empower members and non-members to create fun, safe networks of people that can provide each other with friendship and support. The club has a thriving membership, with a mailing list comprised of about 300 students and activities that have had nearly 150 in attendance.
Spectrum members have also brought national campaigns like I AM EQUAL, a national movement for equality and human rights, as well as vital HIV testing services to campus.
When the tragic rash of intolerance-fueled suicides plagued the nation last fall, Spectrum members banded together and held a memorial bonfire in honor of those they lost. On April 15, Spectrum members participated in the National Day of Silence, along with some staff and faculty, to make a statement that hateful, bullying language in schools toward the LGBTQI community must be stopped.
The upcoming Gay Pride festivities, taking place in downtown Salt Lake City from June 3-5, will have UVU representation for the first time ever. Spectrum members are planning to participate in the parade with posters and a decorated vehicle.
Organizations like UVU Spectrum are integral to a healthy, happy student population and there is nothing more valuable to a learning community than open-mindedness and acceptance of different worldviews.
The resistance against amending school policy to protect LGBTQI students from being discriminated against is symptomatic of the fact that there are still disturbing, unabashed and unrelenting negative sentiments directed toward all facets of the gay community throughout Utah, the United States and the world.
It takes local organizations like UVU Spectrum to get into the trenches and fight hatred on a grassroots level.
In a few decades, a new generation will look back at this time and be puzzled by the current level of undeserved intolerance aimed at the LGBTQI community, much the same way today’s young people puzzle over the racism that culminated in the Civil Rights Movement that happened a half century ago.
Most of those who fight against equality today will live to see a future in which they’re haunted by and ashamed of the ignorant, cruel choices they made. History demonstrates this harsh reality to be unfailingly true.