Post submitted by James Rector, HRC Arkansas Field Organizer
Earlier this month, students at Arkansas Tech University (ATU) in Russellville, Arkansas, hosted their second annual Pride Walk and Festival to celebrate Campus Pride Month. The event focused on students and community members who support LGBTQ equality and included information booths from organizations on campus and the community, including HRC, GLSEN, and Lucie’s Place.
Nathan Fort, an openly gay college basketball player and motivational speaker, was the keynote speaker for the event. He spoke of his experience growing up in Arkansas and the struggles of coming out to his family, friends, and teammates in college. Sigma Tau Delta, the International English Honor Society, read poetry from queer writers. There were also a performance from Miss SPECTRUM 2016 Melanie Masters.
Last month, Rep. Trevor Drown of Dover and Rep. Mary Bentley of Perryville proposed an amendment to HB1213, the school’s appropriations bill, that would prohibit funding specifically to the Department of Diversity. This was prompted after Spectrum hosted a sex education event called "Sex on the Lawn" on campus. The event's goal was to provide knowledge about practicing safe sex for everyone. Both HRC Arkansas and ATU President Dr. Robin E. Bowen released statements of disappointment. After many conversations between legislators, students, faculty, and community members, the amendment was not adopted in the final bill that passed.
As young people push to attain the goals of the queer community on their campuses, HRC is working to provide tools, facilitate connections with other LGBTQ student activists across the country and empower youth to fight for LGBTQ equality on campus and beyond. Learn more here.