Mercyhurst club offers safe haven for LGBT students

On April 15, high schools and colleges around the nation observed a day of silence in protest of bullying lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender students.

LGBT people are everywhere. We are students, doctors, lawyers, teachers, professors. Why am I telling you all of this? As society becomes more accepting of LGBT people, bullying and hate declines. Still, there is still a long fight ahead.

The day of silence helped us remember LGBT teens who have taken their own lives. Gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender students hear anti-gay slurs about 26 times a day, or every 14 minutes on average. Suicide is one of the leading causes of deaths of LGBT students. Back in October, a series of suicides among gay teenagers sent shockwaves through the nation and propelled bullying among LGBT teenagers onto the national stage.

Although the day of silence for the most part went unobserved at Mercyhurst, there are still opportunities to get involved and help LGBT people realize there is a better world out there. As a gay student on campus, I find refuge in Mercyhurst College’s Gay Straight Alliance (GSA). Run by faculty advisor Richard McCarty, Ph.D., of the religious studies department and co-presidents Mark Ennis and Erin Lindell, they and a number of other students have built a RSCO for LGBT students and their allies.

When I go to a GSA meeting, I feel safe because I am around people like me. The Mercyhurst GSA is special, largely because the college has a Catholic denomination. For most Catholic schools, a Gay Straight Alliance is a no-no. But since we at Mercyhurst College are socially merciful, we are able to have a Gay Straight Alliance on campus. And I hope it will continue to exist in the future.

LGBT people can go on to do great things. There are faculty and staff on campus like Dr. McCarty who have proven that LGBT people can advance in society. Also, there are young people like Mark and Erin who will also do the same.

If you are LGBT or just want to be an ally, come to a GSA meeting and meet some cool, friendly people who just want to be accepted for who they are.