By TANGELA JOHNSON
Defense for the downtrodden is the objective of a new
sensitivity training program by the Gay Straight Alliance.
Carrie Patterson, president of GSA and senior history
major, said the training is essential because gay, lesbian, bisexual and
transgender, or GLBT, people are trying to survive in a predominantly
“This is a heterocentric society,” Patterson said.
“[Heterosexuals] have support everywhere. It is the norm to be heterosexual.”
Patterson also said she feels the youth are typically on
their own when it comes to dealing with the pressures of an alternative
“GLBT youth feel isolated, and finding some acceptance in
a world that completely ignores the existence of GLBT youth where they can feel
accepted is important,” Patterson said. “It’s all about support.”
Amanda Carley, vice president of GSA and a senior
mathematics major, said Safe Space is a counseling program designed to provide
a haven from the scrutiny of others. Carley said the test run, which was
conducted Jan. 5, was a success.
“We want it to be like a workshop, and we teach through
PowerPoint presentations and activities,” Carley said.
She said one of the exercises is a social group
worksheet. Participants fill out the worksheet according to their own interests
and classify themselves with the results.
Carley said this is an exercise that demonstrates how
important it is to belong to some sort of group in society.
“Gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people don’t have
a group, and we create a pocket for them so they have somewhere to go,” Carley
Carley said those completing the training will place
stickers on their office doors, inviting all who are in need of counseling to
Chelsy Walker, a freshman nursing major, said she sees
the need for such an outreach. However, Walker said this sort of program would
have more impact in high school.
Walker said many people want to confide in someone
without the stigma of going to a counselor.
“If people had a chance to talk to other people about
their problems without others knowing, they would talk more,” Walker said.
“[Safe Space] would give them more peers or adults to talk to. Some people are
made fun of for going to counseling.”
In the future, Carley said she hopes the workshop will be
extended to Tech students at definite time periods throughout the year.
“It will depend on how many people we have that can do
the training,” Carley said.
“We don’t have any set dates at the moment. We want to
hold it at least twice a year if not once every quarter.”