By: Michelle Chance
Near the end of the fall semester, the student body will be voting on a bill that would amend the MCC student constitution to recognize gender identity.
The bill which was written and put forward by the LGBTQ Alliance on campus, would essentially reflect the Maricopa Community Colleges District policies which were amended in 2011 to include “sexual orientation and gender identity.”
“What we want to do is just make sure that people like transgender students are included and non-binary students, which are people who don’t identify as either male or female, are able to be covered underneath that gender identity clause or phrase,” said Chris O’Connor, president of the LGBTQ Alliance.
According to O’Connor, the proposed amendment would recognize and protect transgender students from being discriminated against.
“A student who might want to run for president of the student body or another body of the executive position, for example, would be able to do so without the repercussions of being transgender – not because I think that would actually happen, but it’s a good thing to have in there,” O’Connor said.
After the bill was approved by the student senate, the fate of the amendment rests in the hands of the student body.
“I feel like most students would be in favor of it just because gender identity is separate from sex, because gender is mostly in the brain,” O’Connor said.
Although steps like amending the MCC constitution are being taken to help protect LGBTQ students from things like harassment and discrimination, instances still occur that require additional support.
On Nov. 21, Safe Space training was offered for the first time to MCCD students at MCC.
Usually only available to faculty and staff members of colleges and universities, the recent three hour long Safe Space training certified students to be a safe person for members of the LGBTQ community at school to come to if they need help or someone to talk to.
“Not that there had been any specific incident that occurred at MCC before, we just want to make sure there are places that are safe for everybody and for LGBT students,” O’Connor said.
After the training was completed, students and various club leaders received a placard which identified them as being a person who members of the LGBTQ community could come to in confidence and times of need.
In addition to faculty around campus who have already had the training, student organizations like ASMCC and the Events Programming Counsil now have Safe Space placards.
“We will be able to have those posted in the windows to include LGBT students on campus so it’s more of a safer environment for people with those issues,” O’Connor said.
Faculty, employees, and students who are Safe Space trained provide an outlet for LGBTQ students that might be unavailable to them at home.
“With our organization, we are having a lot more people coming to us with specific issues that they have on campus like harassment or just how they come out to family because they might be safe on campus to be LGBTQ, but then at home they’re not,” O’Connor said.
“So it’s always really nice to have that safe space especially at a place that you come to all of the time just to be yourself.”