It’s April in State College and that means it’s Penn State Pride Month. You may have noticed rainbow flags flying up and down Beaver Avenue, but Pride Month is much more than a change in street-side adornment. Throughout April, the LGBTQA Student Resource Center organizes events, speakers, workshops, and performances to celebrate all LGBTQ+ students on campus. From drag shows to a visit from the Pennsylvania LGBTQ+ Traveling History Exhibit, there is a wide range of events to spread awareness and educate students on this colorful, diverse, dynamic and active community on campus.
VALLEY spoke with John Herr, a senior BBH major, who celebrated pride month through a project spreading pronoun awareness in the HUB called ‘Straight Talks’. Herr got involved with the initiative in an effort to combat issues of harassment and bullying in Penn State culture.
“The more there is pride, and the more there is awareness, the easier it is for people to be who they are,” says Herr.
The Straight Talks project educates students on how to properly use pronouns he, she, sie/zie, they, ze and zie. Although some may find it overwhelming, Herr encourages students to approach it with an open mind.
You are going to come across people are different from you, who may go by a different pronoun than you assume,” says Herr, “but with enough respect and acceptance you’ll find that they aren’t that different after all.
According to the Penn State Office of Student Affairs, Penn State has repeatedly been ranked among the top 25 universities in the nation by the Campus Pride Index. In addition to Pride Month, the LGBTQA Resource Center promotes October as LGBTQ+ History Month and November as Transgender Awareness Month. To get more involved in LGBTQ+ action on campus, students can support organizations such as Ally House, LGBTQIA Student Roundtable and Opulence (PSU’s premiere drag ambassador club) who host events throughout the school year.
Penn State is constantly working to make all students feel comfortable and included. A vibrant campus community is one of diversity, acceptance and freedom. VALLEY encourages all Penn State students to get involved with the LGBTQ community this April, no matter what sexuality or gender you identify with.
“There are more people than you think in the LGBTQA community,” says Herr, “and if you keep an open mind you might just get the chance to meet some really awesome people out in the world.”