Courtesy of Dr. Kathleen Rose, Gavilan College President
Each year, universities and colleges across the United States celebrate National Coming Out Day, a day where the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) individuals are recognized.
On campus, the day is often seen as an opportunity to educate people about how LGBTQ folks are often silenced, as well as ways to support people during their coming out journeys. And while the day may provide an educational opportunity for potential allies, it holds even more meaning for LGBTQ community members who want to be authentically seen and recognized.
For 29 years, National Coming Out Day has been celebrated as a way to remind LGBTQ individuals about the power that is coming out and how LGBTQ people can use the day to introduce themselves and then rewrite their history. This day holds such great significance for many as it may be the first time that an LGBTQ individual gets an opportunity to feel seen and accepted in their identity while having the support of larger campus community.
And this week, for the first time, Gavilan College is a part of national conversation, that larger network of colleges and universities across the country that recognize that the lives of our students are intersectional. That means that many live at the margins of each of their multiple identities and share various experiences because of said marginalized identities.
As a college we have had a conversation about this over the past few weeks as we came to the community decision to fly the rainbow flag this afternoon in support of our Principles of Community and our shared value of Gavilan as an educational institution that accepts all who support lifelong learning.
I am proud of our Principles of Community that support our aspirations as a campus community to be diverse, equitable, inclusive, and purposeful. We at Gavilan have pledged to value the worth and dignity of every person, the pursuit of truth, devotion to excellence, acquisition of knowledge and the nurture of democratic citizenship.
Wherever you go at the college, in the classroom, in the lab, on the athletic field or in any instructional space….we each contribute to a positive and comprehensive learning environment, that is accessible to all and where everyone can experience the power of higher education and skills training to achieve personal goals.
Community Colleges like ours are also a place where hope grows each and every day, embedded in the humanity that is all around us. It is powerful to see hope emerging where students congregate to learn how to use their voices with strength and intent in a world where some days there seems to be few places to find hope.
Colleges like ours where you learn about religion, political science, sociology, anthropology, psychology, art, computer science, math, physics, kinesiology and more not only add equity to our ability to understand the planet, but position ourselves for change and social justice. And even though change is sometimes difficult, it is never without hope.
We will be demonstrating that hope again the week of October 15th when Gavilan joins all California Community Colleges to observe the “Undocumented Student Week of Action”, when our college will share resources and build awareness and support of our undocumented student population. Look to our website for more information and how you can be involved.
I’d like to end with a quote that I believe describes the sense of community that many of us feel at Gavilan:
“The good we secure for ourselves is precarious and uncertain until it is secured for all of us and incorporated into our common life.”