Students and community supports gathered at the Eternal Flame in the Florida A&M quadrangle to celebrate the passing of an LGBT non-discrimination referendum Thursday.
Originally scheduled to happen before the referendum was passed, the rally was meant the let students know about the LGBT presence on FAMU’s campus. The referendum was passed in the student elections with 1300 students voting “Yes” to include sexual orientation and gender identity under the non-discrimination policy.
“This is meant to be a peaceful demonstration and celebration,” said Victoria Moore, 21, the treasurer of the FAMU Pride Student Union and a senior computer information systems student from Miramar, Fla. “I’ve also heard it is not technically official, that the Board of Trustees has to vote on it to get it in the policy so this will also be something to encourage them with not just the votes from the election and just letting them know that we would very much like that to be included.”
Though the demonstration crowd was small, supporters made their voices heard. “Hey! Hey! Ho! Ho! Homophobia’s gotta go” and “Black, white, gay, straight. Get together and stop the hate” were chants that could be heard echoing throughout the quadrangle.
“We really don’t have good representation,” said Jubilee Jackson, 27, the founder of FAMU Pride Student Union and a senior physical education student from Fort Lauderdale. “I think, that like America, they [the FAMU student body] stereotype us.”
Yet, students are hopeful that the passing of the referendum means big things for the university. Now that students have made it known they wish to include sexual orientation and gender identity into the non-discrimination policy, LGBT students will be able to be more open without fear of being discriminated against.
“Hopefully it means that the school will no longer and cannot discriminate against people based on the fact that people are gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered, or a boy that likes to dress in girl’s clothes,” said Jackson. “All those things are issues and problems on this campus, especially right now.”
During the rally, students made it clear they do not want to be seen or treated as second-class citizens. They understand that in order to overcome the thoughts of fellow students, the mindset has to start with them.
“We’re just trying to let the students know that we are out here,” said Lindsay Fields, 18, the co-treasurer for FAMU Pride Student Union and a sophomore chemistry/pre-med student from Jacksonville. “We are not going to stand for being harassed or bullied or looked down upon because we are not second-class citizens.”
“I want to show that the LGBT community is present on FAMU’s campus,” said Ana Sanz, 18, co-hostess of the rally and a freshmen fine arts student from Miami. “It shouldn’t be shoved aside like it doesn’t exist. It should be respected. We are human beings; we have rights; we pay tuition too. So it is only right we are treated equal.”