Albert Jackson, president and founder of FAMU’s LGBT club, blames himself for the lack of student participation.
Tallahassee Community College has PRIDE and Florida State University has Pride Student Union. Many students do not realize that FAMU also offers the same organization.
LGBT clubs are an integral part of any college campus, offering the LGBT community a chance to feel accepted and have a safe place to gather with no fear.
“There was a need for a club,” said Jackson. “There wasn’t anything for the LGBT students on campus.”
LGBT club’s future does not look good. Along with losing an advisor, which brings difficulty to organizing events, participation has fallen sharply. Starting with 50 students at the beginning of this school year, membership has dwindled to 20 solid members.
Jackson admits that overall organization for the club has been sporadic.
“Many of the meetings end up being put together last minute,” he said.
The recent climate surrounding LGBT rights nationally have created a harsh environment for the younger LGBT population. A well-publicized case of Tyler Clementi from Rutgers University exposed the psychological damages of in-school bullying. A video of Clementi’s relationship with another male student was broadcast live online by his roommate, and Clementi jumped off the George Washington Bridge.
On Sunday, the local colleges met for the day at Lake Ella for a community picnic. Hosted by Pride Student Union of FSU, all LGBT organizations were invited to attend. Students from FSU and TCC made the event, yet there was no representation from FAMU.
“When you have students living in the dorms there is going to be diverse ideas about sexuality,” said Frank Jaffe, assistant director of FSU PSU. “LGBT clubs give students a space they can go to to talk to people who understand their situation. Residence Halls try to be understanding but harmful language is used by some staff without thinking about it.”
Occurrences like this have caused many LGBT organizations to target youth nationwide. The Trevor Project is a 24-hour suicide hotline for LGBT youth. The number is 866-4-U-TREVOR.
“Overall, I can say only five or six boys are [at the meetings] at any given time,” said Jackson. “Because of the religious presence in the black community, being gay is judged harder.”