UT organizations allied up to support LGBTQ

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Sophomore medical lab science major Petro On laughs with a friend as they make colorful flowers at a booth during Allies Day where student organizations came together to support the LGBT community Wednesday afternoon.

Photo Credit: Emily Ng | Daily Texan Staff

A good fight isn’t fought alone, as is the thinking of the Diversity and Equity Student Action and Advisory Council. Various organizations came “Out and Allied” during UT’s Ally Day on the East Mall.

Wednesday’s event, intended to strengthen the relationship between the LGBT community and its allies, encouraged student organizations to announce themselves publicly as an ally. Each organization spotlighted a different issue that affects the LGBT community through an activity or informational table.

Psychology senior Ashley Hall said the event allows organizations to take the first step in helping a marginalized community.

“For an organization to come out as an ally means that they are willing to take action to support a community in need,” Hall said. “The LGBTQ community, for instance, needs people to make calls to the Texas Legislature telling our representatives to pass the Fair Employment Act so that people can’t be fired based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.”

By becoming an ally, an organization pledges to continue to create awareness of LGBT issues through lobbying students, creating events and hosting panels. 

The event also works to build coalitions between groups of underrepresented minorities who share common struggles, said Jazmin Estrada, mathematics senior and co-director of operations for the Latino Leadership Council — one of the organizations that came out as an ally.

“Our activity consisted of rolling a large dice and responding to a hypothetical scenario,” Estrada said. “For instance, your nephew starts playing with a doll at a family function. We were trying to get people to think about how machismo affects society and the undocumented queer community.”

Kennon Kasischke, biology and psychology senior and member of the Queer Student Alliance, said the event also intends to attract less typical individuals to connect with the group.

“We really want to expand the idea of what it is to be an ally,” Kasischke said. “Typically it is thought to be a heterosexual individual. But you can be an ally regardless of your sexual orientation or gender identity.”

Samantha Robles, social work and Spanish senior and member of the Diversity and Equity Student Action and Advisory Council said the organization is always striving to address issues that concern the student body, such as gender-inclusive housing.

“We added the second A [in DESAAC] recently for action,” Robles said. “I have learned that what’s most important is taking action. Finding ways to learn, go out and create change. Coming out as an ally is an action.”

Printed on Thursday, April 18, 2013 as: Coming out as allies