Student support is offered over the ‘Rainbow’
Posted Oct. 10, 2008

The ULV campus remains a supportive, forward-thinking community. Since some struggle with many issues revolving around sexuality, the Rainbow Alliance has decided to incorporate this notion in its celebration of National Coming Out Day, Oct. 11.

Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals are not the only people who take note of the day. Many LGBT supportive students, faculty and staff are plentiful at the University of La Verne, which is the basis of the formation of the Rainbow Alliance.

In 2002, students and faculty expressed interest in forming a LGBT friendly organization. Soon thereafter, a constitution for the Rainbow Alliance was written, stating, “The Rainbow Alliance encourages individuality and sensitivity about human sexuality through maintaining confidentiality, awareness and support.”

“The Rainbow Alliance is open to everybody to join,” said David Bayless, library accounting assistant who also acts as the organization’s adviser. “Under­graduate students, graduate students, faculty, staff—gay and straight alike—are invited to join.”

This year, for National Coming Out Day, Bayless decided to circulate an “Out List” of supportive ULV faculty and staff.

“The point of the ‘Out List’ is so that students can have people to confide in if they want to talk or ask questions,” Bayless said.

“I'm happy to offer my support for the LGBT community at ULV,” said Darryl Swarm, assistant librarian. “I hope that students will feel more comfortable knowing there is a supportive faculty.”

Though the Rainbow Alliance clearly has abundant community support, the group itself is relatively low in member support.

The number of members fluctuates each year—the peak was about 15 members who regularly attended meetings, according to Bailey Smith, previous adviser for the Alliance and director of Learning Enhancement Services.

The decline in participation has been attributed to scheduling. Currently, the schedule of meetings is at noon on the second Wednesday and fourth Thursday of the month in the Wilson Library.

“Not many are participating in the Rainbow Alliance so far this year,” said Smith, who was largely responsible for the organization’s initial growth. “Everyone is busy with classes and other clubs, so we are trying to raise attention for the Alliance in hope of raising involvement.”

Last year, when Bayless took over as the primary adviser, the Rainbow Alliance raised awareness through its participation in school activities and in running its own events.

“Last fall, we had a booth at the homecoming fair and won first place for booth design,” Bayless said.

Additionally, the group sponsored World AIDS Day last November in Sneaky Park and distributed information and acknowledgment of World AIDS Day, which takes place each year on Dec.1.

According to Smith, the calendar looks sparse this year in comparison to past years because the Alliance wants to get more people involved to provide input.

Though the Alliance may not have the desired involvement, it definitely has ample support from ULV.

“Everyone in the La Verne community has been extremely supportive of LGBT students and of the Rainbow Alliance,” said junior Paul Gamst, who was president of the Alliance spring semester, 2008. “I’ve never seen or heard anything hateful,” Gamst added.

Smith acknowledges that while the supportive mentality is present on campus, sexual orientation can still be a very challenging issue for some people who struggle with expressing their sexual orientation publicly.

“I think it's an important issue, and I'm proud to be a part of the declaration of support for our LGBT community,” said John Bartelt, associate professor of education-technology.

Supportive ULV community members who would like it publicly known to students that they may be contacted include the following persons: John Bartelt, David Bayless, Suzanne Beaumaster, Yvonne Briones, Danielle Bryce, Heidi Coronado, Hector Delgado, Kathy Duncan, Anita Flemington, Erin Gratz, Bryon Howlett, Steve Kent, Aleta Kerker, Jerry Kernes, Thierry Kolpin, Ruth Lindhorst, Daniel Loera, Tracy Lowenthal, Kimberly Martin, Stacie Pham, Elizabeth Pietrzak, Jessica Prince, Peggy Redman, Lisa Rodriguez, Laurie Schroeder, Emily Shoemaker, Bailey Smith, Darryl Swarm, Patricia Taylor, Zandra Wagoner, Chip West and Jordon Wycoff.

Lesley Michaels can be reached at lesley.michaels@laverne.edu.

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