Every June, America celebrates Pride Month as a tribute and commemoration of the Stonewall riots in 1969, which became a turning point in the fight for LGBT rights. At Broward College, Pride Month is both a celebration and opportunity to highlight the year-long efforts and initiatives to provide a safe, welcoming space for the LGBTQIA+ community, from our students to our staff and faculty.

BC Pride educates, raises awareness, and provides support to the LGBTQIA+ community. Throughout the year, BC Pride hosts events that seek to create and encourage a culture of inclusion within the College and participation in community outreach events.

"BC Pride is the main source of resources and support for every LGBTQIA+ individual at the College," says Andrew Dutka, Broward College librarian and co-chair of BC Pride. "But we are not alone in our efforts to create and foster a culture of inclusion and safety for the community. We are lucky to have the Gay Straight Alliance (GSA) and the newly created Employee Resource Group, which are both dedicated to the same goal.”

Supporting our LGBTQIA+ Students

bc-pride-2.jpgThrough the student organization, GSA, students will not only find a support group conformed by their peers, but they will also take part in volunteering and activism opportunities beyond the College. The club is open to LGBTIA+ students and allies that hope to help in the mission to raise awareness on the issues and challenges the community faces.

Each of the three main campuses has its own GSA chapter, and students can join by reaching out to one of the faculty advisors. Laura Raymond is the advisor for GSA Central Campus, Melanie Gnaizda-Gilson represents GSA North, and Robert Gallagher is responsible for GSA South.

BC Pride scholarships are available to active members of the GSA with a 2.5 or higher GPA who have attended at least two club meetings. The award is based on whether the student is full-time or part-time.

Beyond the Office and the Classroom

Implemented in January 2021, Employee Resource Groups (ERG) were developed by the Talent and Culture department to provide the College's employees with the opportunity to create connections with common-minded colleagues in a safe, welcoming, and open environment. The LGBTQIA+ Employee Resource Group, co-chaired Preston Steele, associate dean, Logistics Supply Chain Management, and Franco Montero, senior specialist, Student Records, is the latest initiative to compliment BC Pride on an employee level.

“This ERG is a safe space for colleagues to come together and share their stories, their ideas with one another while also learning more about the community,” explains Steele. “There is definitely a strength in numbers, and we hope to continue to grow this group to show that we care and we support every single member of our College family.”

Over 50 members participate twice a month in Zoom meetings and social activities that include happy hours, informational sessions, and educational games. "It's important to understand the individual struggles within the community, which is why it is so important that we put an effort in learning and getting to know one through groups like this one that seeks to do so in a fun and refreshing way," says Steele.

This support group is open to all employees of the College. If you wish to join, you can reach out to dsteele@broward.edu.

"All these initiatives work year-round to support and celebrate the LGBTQIA+ community and each individual that is a part of it. We are determined to make everyone feel welcome not only during Pride Month but every single day," says Dutka.

Broward College wishes you a Happy Pride Month!
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