Club aims to grow LGBTQ+ presence

Underrepresented group advocates acceptance, works to break stereotypes


By Anthony Kinney

As human beings, we all thrive to express ourselves and feel the sensation of being accepted.

The new Alphabe+ Club at Contra Costa College vows to provide a “safe zone” and support network for faculty and students of the LGBTQ+ community at Contra Costa College starting in the spring 2017 semester.

The Alphabe+ Club, formerly known as the Gay Straight Alliance, will be open to staff and students of all sexual orientations who support the LGBTQ+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Questioning) community, not just LGBTQ+ students and staff.

The club also extends its invitation to high school students on campus.

“It’s necessary for the Alphabe+ Club to be on campus,” sociology major and club President Enrique Duarte said. “We have a club for almost everything else here on campus but our LGBTQ+ students and their allied classmates.”

Faculty club adviser and Senior Executive Assistant Michael Peterson said it is important to have a support network for LGBTQ+ students on campus during the club’s interest meeting held on Monday.

Students even shared incidents where they felt discriminated against or uncomfortable while being on campus.

Also discussed during the meeting was the club’s purpose, goals, its constitution and plans for the upcoming semester.

Among its long list of goals, the Alphabe+ Club aims to raise awareness of social injustices based on sexual orientation through educational programming, dialogue and any other format deemed appropriate by members of the club.

The constitution promotes members to talk about issues related to sexual orientation and how to lessen the isolation of LGBTQ+ students and to create a more supportive inclusive campus environment and gender expression.

“We want to create a fun, yet educational, space where everyone can feel safe to be who they are without discrimination,” Duarte said.

A “safe zone” is in the process of being established as a support network where faculty members who are active supporters of the LGBTQ+ community will label their offices as safe places for students who experience discrimination, Peterson said.

“I think it’s important to have a safe space and a place for people of the (LGBTQ+) community to meet,” liberal arts major and club member Melissa Hadiyanto said.

The Gay Straight Alliance was reactivated in 2015 after a 20-year gap in support after the original GSA on campus deactivated in 1994.

CCC is the last campus in the district to have an active group advocating for LGBTQ+ students.

The Alphabe+ Club wants to increase its presence on campus by uniting with other clubs and promote a more LGBTQ+ friendly environment.

Although some still discriminate against members of the LGBTQ+ community, some heterosexual students are supportive of the club.

Chris Richter, undeclared major, said  the Alphabe+ Club is a great addition to campus clubs.

“LGBTQ+ students deserve a network of support,” Richter said. “Some people are still close-minded to the idea of gay people and still look down on them. That’s not fair.”

CCC will be hosting a LGBTQ+ Student Appreciation Day on Thursday to celebrate and honor all students who have been being doing work and supporting the LGBTQ+ community on campus.