Happy LGBTQ History Month, everyone!
I am so thrilled that we were able to do this special edition of the Beacon. For those of you who didn’t know, October is LGBTQ History Month in the United States. While Pride Month takes place in June, October is dedicated to celebrating the history of the LGBTQ community.
It is well known that the University of Tennessee has not been the most welcoming place for those in the LGBTQ community. Last year, UT was ranked the number two most unfriendly university in the U.S. for the LGBTQ community by the Princeton Review. While their ranking method has been debated, this is still not something to be proud of, and it is shameful that the university is known for its unfriendliness to this community.
Although there are LGBTQ resources at UT — mainly through the Pride Center — with programs such as mentorships, reading groups and Safe Zone trainings, the university still ranked this highly on LGBTQ unfriendliness. With a ranking like this, this does not make LGBTQ students want to attend the university. Even for LGBTQ allies, this does not constitute a welcoming atmosphere or an accepting community.
UT has to do better. While we have the slogan “Vol Means All,” it does not always feel as if this is the case. All students should feel accepted at their university and should not feel uncomfortable or unwelcome. Everyone has a right to higher education, and no one should feel like they cannot properly receive their education due to discrimination for sexual orientation — or any other reason, for that matter.
Being a university located in the southeastern United States, some may expect this behavior. However, that does not make it right. With the strong influence of Christianity in the south, some say that this is the reason for their disapproval of the LGBTQ community. However, Jesus, the central figure of Christianity, loved all people, and you are following in this example if you are accepting and welcoming to everyone. You are not following in this example if you are spreading hatred.
My goal as Editor-in-Chief of The Daily Beacon is to make our office, and eventually the university as a whole, a space where everyone feels welcome. We do our very best to bring the news to light at this university, and we try to be representative of all students. I want you to know that you are welcome here and that we will always try to make sure everyone’s stories are told and everyone’s voices are heard.
UT’s reputation for being LGBTQ-unfriendly is unacceptable. Things have to change, and that starts with everyone altering their mindsets from hatred to love, from discrimination to acceptance and from meanness to kindness.
Sarah Rainey is a senior at UT this year studying English and language and world business. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Columns and letters of The Daily Beacon are the views of the individual and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Beacon or the Beacon's editorial staff.