Lyons: Dear LGBTQ Students

Dear LGBTQ Students,

This letter is to let you know that you have a right to be here.

I know that this campus doesn’t always feel welcoming. Sometimes our value of Benedictine hospitality doesn’t extend as far as it should. If you’re in the closet, you know that there are people who “disagree” with who you are. If you’re out, you might have faced backlash or judgment from students, professors, or organizations on campus. I know I’ve heard many hurtful things from students and faculty alike.

So, I’m here to remind you that you have a right to be here. We have a right to be here. I swear to you that there are so many people on this campus who support you wholeheartedly and will fight for you with everything they have. There are more LGBTQ students and professors than you may know.

I get how it feels to be in an environment that in many cases does not accept you. We are barred from certain positions or spaces because of who we are. That is called discrimination and it is wrong. I know some days it may feel like nothing is changing. But look at history. We still have a long way to go to overcome racism, but just in the past fifty years, we have made huge strides. It’s frustrating, it’s unjust, it’s exhausting, but I promise that we will get there. Just the fact that you’re here, whether you’re out or not, deserves major praise. (And especially to LGBTQ students of color, you’re fighting two battles at once and you often go unrecognized and uncelebrated. Please let me know if there’s anything I, and this school, can do to be a better ally).

Some days you wake up feeling completely confident (or at least pretty sure) with yourself and who you are. Other days, you wake up and find you’re under attack from people who don’t understand what it means to be LGBTQ+. It’s a pain in the ass, but we’re going to have to teach those people. And the best way to do that is by existing as yourself and being proud of your identity (it doesn’t matter if you’re out or not, you make a difference just by being at this school).

Say it with me. Right now. In your head if you want (or you can go scream this from the Alumni Quad, major props if you do):

“I have the right to be who I am without fear of discrimination. I have the right to openly, boldly show my identity without fear of judgment. I have the right to be without fear. I have the right to be.”

We are so damn valid. We are so damn awesome. We are so gonna change the world, starting with this campus.

Yours in resistance to all injustice,
Jenna Lyons

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