Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Questioning (LGBTQ) Commissioner Navidra Hardin passed his first initiative at the Student Government Association meeting Tuesday.
In an effort to encourage Emerson to be a more welcoming place, Hardin drafted a plan to create a group at the Counseling Center where members can go and speak to their peers about issues at home dealing with homophobia. The initiative passed unanimously. Hardin, who identifies himself as gay, said he wrote the strategy with using student input.
“The LGBTQ community is no stranger to the suffering of those subjected to homophobic environments,” the initiative says. “While it’s clear that Emerson is not that kind of environment, we must acknowledge the fact that our fellow students do come from such backgrounds.”
Hardin’s proposed group would meet regularly and give members of the LGBTQ community a safe place to discuss their difficulties.
Hardin said that upon returning to school from winter break, some of his friends expressed that they felt uncomfortable while they were at home because of their sexual orientations.
“Personally, I was [not at ease at home] as well. I had just come out to my family [over winter break],” the freshman journalism major said.
Hardin said that although Emerson’s Alliance for Gays Lesbians and Everyone (EAGLE) creates a comfortable environment for LGBTQ students, he sees it as a group for socialization, not support.
Patricia Challan, the associate director of the Counseling Center, said in the nine years she has worked at Emerson, a group similar to the one Hardin proposed had been discussed, but was never implemented.
“I always think it’s better when these kinds of things are initiated by students, because that means there’s student need and interest. This is certainly something we talk about with students in individual sessions, and there are lots of students it impacts,” she said.
Some of Hardin’s peers said the availability of this group would be beneficial for the school.
Senior Dana Isernio, who identifies herself as straight, said she is in full support of the group and is surprised that it hadn’t been established at the school already.
“With college being somewhere to be an escape from a bad home life, it is a place to find yourself and become who you want to be,” the marketing major said.
Freshman writing for film and television major Rolana Ottley, who identifies herself as bisexual, said even though she feels safe here, it would be nice to meet other people in the LGBTQ community.
“I like [the initiative],” Ottley said. “Maybe I would go, too. I don’t have that feeling of uncomfort here, but it would be a good source to check out.”
Hardin said he hopes the group will be established the end of the semester, or at least by the next academic year.
He said he plans to meet with Director of the Counseling Center Elise Harrison on Monday to discuss further details.