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Montgomery College Creating Supportive Environment for LGBT Students

MCPride Group Leads Collegewide Effort, Board of Trustees Endorse Antibullying Resolution, Safe Zone Training Underway

MCPride, a grassroots group of concerned Montgomery College employees, recently developed “Making It Better,” a collegewide statement that celebrates the College’s diversity and takes a stand against bullying and harassment of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered (LGBT) students, faculty and staff.

On October 24, 2011, the Montgomery College Board of Trustees endorsed the statement and passed a resolution in its support. The statement is now available as a video on the College’s YouTube channel at: http://youtu.be/lfZzcUnTTsM.

“Our statement is powerful because it offers hope and help,” said Dr. DeRionne Pollard, president of Montgomery College. “I am proud that Montgomery College is creating a safe and welcoming environment for every student.”

MCPride represents LGBT employees as well as employees who are supportive allies. Since organizing, MCPride members have helped find faculty advisers and provide support to LGBT student clubs on each of the College’s three campuses. They also have identified faculty representatives who will serve as resources for the College community. MCPride also developed a series of educational events throughout October, in honor of LGBT History Month.

“We had long felt the need to create a collegewide group of advocates for our LGBT students and colleagues,” said Dr. Rita Kranidis, a leader of MCPride and professor of English. “Through MCPride, we are leading the effort to create a positive and accepting institutional culture that embraces diversity in all its forms, including sexual orientation and gender identity.”

Montgomery College and MCPride have created a three-class professional development program that trains faculty, staff and administrators to provide support and assistance to students or colleagues in need. Participants in this “Safe Zones” program place a sticker or sign on their office doors, making them easy for students to identify.

In addition, the College has created its first in what will become a series of videos of students and employees sharing their personal stories of challenge and triumph. The first video has been submitted to the It Gets Better Project as a message of hope to LGBT students. Author and columnist Dan Savage started the It Gets Better Project in response to LGBT youth taking their own lives because of harassment. With more than 25,000 videos, It Gets Better lets youth know that life really does get better. Montgomery College’s video submission to this national initiative is available on YouTube at: http://youtu.be/YhBQ2Baa3U0.

Among the other collegewide efforts was the development of a television episode that discusses being LGBT in college and the local resources available to Montgomery College students. The episode is currently airing on Montgomery College Television, cable channel 10 in Montgomery County, and is available for viewing on YouTube. In the future, MCPride plans to enhance its online resources for LGBT students and develop LGBT course curricula.

For more information about Montgomery College, visit www.montgomerycollege.edu.

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