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By TANGELA JOHNSON tjj004@latech

By TANGELA JOHNSON

tjj004@latech.edu

 

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 heterosexual world.

“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 lifestyle. 

“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 said.

Carley said those completing the training will place stickers on their office doors, inviting all who are in need of counseling to stop by.

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.”


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