Posted on: May 14, 2023 Posted by: Glacier Staff Comments: 0

Graphic by Emily Stephens

By Nick Stulga, Editor-in-Chief

“We see you and we are here for you; we will not give up on you and your rights.”

That’s the last line of a letter Moraine’s Gender and Sexuality Progress (GASP!) club received on May 9–43 days after club members met with Moraine’s president and key administrators to discuss their concerns regarding the LGBTQIA+ community at the college.

The letter–which was from Moraine’s counseling department–came a day after The Glacier ran a special report that included an update on GASP!’s frustration with the lack of response from administrators.

The letter was originally received as an email to GASP! advisers. It was later posted in GASP!’s Canvas shell as an announcement for all members to see. The letter is written by Moraine adjunct counselor Laura Calkins-Torres and details new policies in place at the counseling center.

To prevent deadnaming–which is when someone calls a trans or LGBTQIA+ person by their previous name–the counselors will ask students if they have a preferred name at the check-in desk. They will also train counselors on putting the name and the students’ preferred pronouns into their scheduling system.

Calkins-Torres is in the process of creating signs highlighting important dates for the LGBTQIA+ community, along with information and facts regarding them. “I am hoping to start displaying these by next month in time for pride,” the email reads.

We see you and we are here for you; we will not give up on you and your rights.”

Adjunct counselor Laura Calkins-Torres

There is discussion of making counselor backgrounds more easily accessible on the website so that students can easily select the one who fits their needs. Counselors are also looking for LGBTQIA+ organizations to assist with staff development training within the department.

Calkins-Torres also invites GASP! members to attend virtual meetings held on Fridays to discuss further: “I would be more than happy to meet individually with the students wishing to attend to discuss what they would like to highlight in the meeting and to provide any support needed.”

They say they will continue to meet regularly to discuss what more can be done.

“Honestly I feel some relief in knowing our presentation and response efforts haven’t gone unnoticed,” GASP! member Mio Ovalle said regarding the letter. “But we still have many demands that the administration is silent on.”

Ovalle says they appreciate all that the counseling department is doing to help, but that the lack of response from the president and administration is concerning.

This list of proposed changes was presented to the president and administration during a March 28 meeting with GASP!

“Don’t get me wrong, I understand the changes we are asking for take time, but the least they could do is communicate to us how things are going,” Ovalle said. “Neither the administration nor the president will do that. To me, that shows they don’t care.”

Vice President of Administrative Affairs Richard Hendricks was one attendee of the original meeting with GASP! He originally said he had deleted content from Moraine’s LGTBQIA+ resource page because the content lead to dead links or didn’t align with the college’s core values.

Hendricks would like to add one more reason to the list: The content wasn’t directly related to college education. He also said that some of the resources could simply be found through a quick Google search, so there was no reason they were needed on Moraine’s page. 

Hendricks said he was having trouble finding specific examples of content that violated the college’s core values after being asked to provide examples via email. He said that if GASP! wanted content reinstated or put on the page, they could talk to him and he would consider it if valid reasoning was given for putting it back.

“I’d say I’m up for the discussion with him, but the reasoning is ridiculous,” GASP! member Hector Candia said. “Many community colleges and universities have LGBT+ resources that help the students outside of education. Plus, there’s non-LGBT resources that help students that aren’t specifically for their education as well.

“The whole thing just feels like a ‘Justify your existence to me’ kind of deal.”