By Cassidy Peterson
Staff writer

On Sept. 28th, a Safe Space Training was put on by the Gay Straight Alliance club in the Justice Theater in Shears Technology Center.

Janelle Voth, Hutchinson Community College’s Gay Straight Alliance sponsor, said that this event was put on to give faculty and staff a chance to learn how to make students that are members of the LGBTQ+ community feel comfortable and safe in their classrooms.

Voth discussed the challenges of being a member of the LGBTQ+ community and not knowing what professors and faculty are supportive. Voth said that there are about 15 students in GSA at HutchCC. Oftentimes, Voth will be at the school with students until 9 p.m. just talking with them. Voth even created a Dungeons and Dragons Club in order to give GSA members another place to feel welcome and socialize.

Voth said she hopes this type of training seen at STC can be put on annually.

Precious Smith, a middle school teacher in Wichita, was the guest speaker. At the training, one of the main topics was how to be an LGBTQ+ ally. Tips for how to be an ally include listening, educating yourself on communities that are often marginalized and going to anti-oppression training, getting involved, speaking up and intervening if need be, learning from mistakes and not getting embarrassed if you are corrected, and staying engaged when listening to others speak about the adversity they face.

All of these ideas are based off of GLSEN, a group that started in the 1990s whose goal is to allow students to learn and mature in a bully-free and harassment-free environment.

Voth said that this training would allow students to know what professors they can talk to and feel safe with. She said that she hopes professors can get pins or stickers as well, so students can see who is an ally of the group or a member themself.

Community colleges do not often have a large support system for the LGBTQ+ community, but the HutchCC GSA is trying to change that.

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