RHC hosts campus- wide National Coming Out Day

As part of National Coming Out Day, the Associated Students as well as Spectrum (formerly the GSA) hosted an event at Rio Hondo College in the mid quad Oct. 11 in show of support to the Lesbian Bisexual Gay Transgender (LGBT+) community and equality.

This kicks off a series of events that the AS and Spectrum are having on campus they hope will encourage students to open up.

President of Spectrum, Diana Juarez said “We didn’t have an event regarding this last year, so we are trying to bring it back. We plan on having a huge event in April which we are currently in the process of working out.”

Rio Hondo College supports the LGBT+ population on campus and Spectrum offers various events, assemblies, and speakers that allow students to become more educated about the LBGT+ community.

Spectrum meets in room A-208, Tuesdays from 1-2 p.m. and all students and staff are encouraged to stop by to sit in on one of their meetings.

The ultimate goal is to help LGBT+ students feel acceptance throughout the school and community by educating individuals on the topic.

When asked how she felt about the event, Clara Jacobo of the AS said “I’m pretty excited, it’s the first event for National Coming Out Day. We are implementing new programs, such as Safe Zone, as well as a series of workshops that allow people to become more comfortable with speaking out about the topic.”

The Rio Safe Zone Ally is a program started by Rio Hondo College which actively takes steps to reduce and prevent harassment, discrimination, and violence based on sexual orientation or gender identity of students and staff on campus.

“Through the Rio Safe Zone Alley program, LGBTQI campus members know that they can speak freely with ‘Allies’ about issues, including sexual orientation and gender identity, which may affect their academic success or job satisfaction. Rio Hondo College is committed to diversity and creating safe spaces for all students and employees.” states Dr. Mike Munoz, Associate Dean of Student Services.

Through these efforts, Rio Hondo College has a goal to ensure that all students have equal opportunity while attending the school.

During the first event of National Coming Out Day there was a booth set up by the AS that was giving away “RHC FOR EQUALITY” pins, plastic toy rings, wedding certificates, as well as bead necklaces.

There a door set up which represented “coming out” and it gave students the opportunity to symbolically come out of the closet, which refers to disclosing one’s sexual orientation by recognizing it within yourself and choosing to share it with your friends or family.

Plenty of information was also provided for students regarding understanding gender differences, being gay/lesbian, the legal rights for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender employees and students, accepting yourself and others, along with a LGBT+ vocabulary handout that defines many terms people may not know.

Raising awareness on the subject is the best way to expose students to the issues of the LGBT+ community on campus as well as around the world.

Rick Loza, 21, of Rio Hondo said “I think it’s a good thing, people are starting to become more accepting of gender preferences,” in regards to the day’s event.

A sizeable crowd gathered at the lower quad by the Rio Cafe to show their support to the LGBT+ community as well as to gather any information they wanted.

Students lined up to sign their marriage certificates and pick out their wedding rings, followed by a “coming out of the closet” celebration.

When asking Marcia Serrano of Spectrum what the event means to her, she said “I’m glad that the school is celebrating National Coming Out Day, it affects me personally and it’s nice to see my school supporting it.”

Serrano had a booth set up alongside Juarez and other Spectrum members to show their support to the LGBT+ community.

In the week to come, there will be an event in which students of Rio Hondo College will be allowed to write a story in where they anonymously come out or simply get the opportunity to share their voice.

Along with this event, other resources, such as crisis and help hotlines, are provided to students  in case they are seeking help or have any questions.