ASU offers safe places for LGBTQA students

Photo courtesy of Gilberto Gamboa. Photo courtesy of Gilberto Gamboa.

Since before the Stonewall Riots in New York City sparked the gay rights movement in the 1960s, gay and lesbian college students have sought refuge at places and organizations that would be friendly toward their lifestyle, places where they can socialize and have fun while feeling accepted.

While ASU has locations and organizations that welcome LGBTQA students, students say these specific locations are no longer a necessity.

Tourism management junior Trevor Young said he feels accepted at and around the University.

"I don’t feel I need to go out of my way to find places," he said.

Young is part of a social fraternity that does not recruit gay students specifically, but it is well-diversified, he said. His fraternity lets students come to socialize and also make a difference in their community through their many service-based activities, he said.

Caren Burgermeister, project coordinator at the School of Mathematical & Statistical Science, said LGBTQA students can go anywhere on campus to have fun while being themselves.

“I provide a welcoming place for students to meet,” Burgermeister said.

She serves as an adviser to the ASU chapter of Delta Lambda Phi, which was started by gay men, for all types of progressive men.

Burgermeister said she has seen a decrease in LGBTQA-specific programs and organizations at ASU, possibly because of a lack of need for them. These safe places might have been needed at the time they were created, she said.

The Bar on Central, a club located one block northwest of the Downtown campus, offers a weekly college night for students, co-owner Jackson David Kelly said. This night is for all students, regardless of their sexual orientations or lifestyles.

“People don’t care about orientation as much anymore," Kelly said. “Things were much different 10 years ago.”

Gay and lesbian bars aren't as necessary now because of a change in public opinion, Kelly said. Even so, he wants to provide a safe space where students can listen to one of their favorite local DJs and dance the night away. He said he feels it is something that Phoenix, downtown in particular, is missing.

Geography freshman Kamden Hough said he couldn't think of a place on or around the Tempe campus where he feels uncomfortable as a gay student, except for the instances when protesters on Cady Mall made him feel unwelcome.

"I have seen several religious groups saying things or holding signs,” he said.

Hough is pledging Delta Lambda Phi simply, because he had always wanted to be a part of a fraternity that was meant for all progressive men.

ASU also implements SafeZONE training for its faculty, which helps promote safe and welcoming environments on-campus, Burgermeister said. The training program teaches faculty how to be an ally to any student, especially LGBTQA students.

These SafeZONES can be identified with stickers usually displayed on office doors or entries to areas, she said.


Reach the reporter at or follow him on Twitter @GilbertGamboa

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