Roughly 40 people at the University of Arizona joined 50 other universities in a nationwide protest in support of the enforcement of Title IX at religious universities.
The Strike Out Queerphobia national campus walkout took place in front of the Administration building in the free speech zone on Oct. 11.
“Today we walked out on universities that have failed us as LGBTQ+ students, today we walked out so that we could walk into a revolution demanding the rights we all deserve as students in the United States of America,” Sage Crosby, an intern at ASUA Pride Alliance, said during their speech.
Pride Alliance is an organization on campus working to provide an environment that is safe and inclusive for LGBTQ+ students and is located in the LGBTQ+ Resource Center.
Crosby was spearheading the walkout and had reserved the space for the protest. Crosby said the TikTok group The Black Menaces, who frequently interview other students at Brigham Young University, started a larger movement after seeing how queer individuals were being discriminated against.
Students participating in the walkout made signs and gave speeches outlining their own personal feelings about how queer students can and should be protected from discrimination.
Mikah Kaufmann, the co-director at Pride Alliance, said the main focus of the protest was in solidarity of queer students experiencing discrimination at religious campuses. Currently, several religious universities receiving federal funding are filing for exemptions from Title IX across the country.
Title IX, part of the Education Amendments of 1972, prohibits sex-based discrimination in educational facilities and programs that receive funding from the federal government.
Kaufmann also noted the UA has certain structural inadequacies that are harmful to the LGBTQ+ community.
“It’s difficult being a trans person trying to actively transition at university,” Kaufmann said.
Kaufmann explained the current lack of gender-neutral bathrooms or how the placement of these bathrooms can be inconvenient or lack accessibility for some students. In addition to this issue, some UA students who decide to change their name have difficulties getting their school-issued ID or other materials to reflect the change.
A student's government-issued ID has to reflect the name change before the UA will allow the change of name on its records. Several members of the trans community expressed how this can be harmful because it forces individuals to see their dead names frequently.
Along with the sentiments of how the UA could better support the trans community, students held their freshly made signs with other phrases demanding respect and change for students suffering on campuses elsewhere in the U.S.
“One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight protect Title IX!” and “No exceptions, no excuses defund phobic institutions,” rang through the union as Jarmon Floyd funneled the group into the stairwell.
The crowd marched to the LGBTQ+ Resource Center for lunch and a discussion, with UA freshman Jarmon Floyd leading chants through a megaphone.
“Right now, there are some schools — mainly religious schools — that aren’t following Title IX. Even though they aren’t following it, they still get federal funding, which we don’t think is right,” Floyd said.
UA sophomore Ruben Reynoso agreed, describing his personal connection to the issue.
“Growing up in Utah at an extremely Mormon and religious school that blatantly discriminated against LGBTQ+ students … as somebody who has experienced that discrimination, my heart really goes out to those students,” he said.
Many participants were appreciative of the resources that UA does provide — especially in comparison to the federally funded religious schools they are advocating against. The most common was the LGBTQ+ Resource Center.
“The cultural centers are very helpful, especially the LGBTQRC and the Women and Gender Resource Center. Those have a lot of resources for transgender folk, non-binary … anything under the umbrella,” Floyd said.
Reynoso mentioned the LGBTQRC as well.
“I’m glad that [UA] provided a queer lounge for us to hang out and have a space separate from campus,” he said.
The participants also shared some things that they felt the university could do better in regard to supporting LGBTQ+ students.
“While we have [resource centers], not a lot of people know about them yet. I was surprised when I came here because there will be sophomores and juniors like, ‘oh, what is the WGRC?”’ Floyd explained.
FORCE, short for Feminists Organized to Resist, Create and Empower, is a student organization and internship program within the WGRC. FORCE and Pride Alliance are two organizations with resources for students who are looking for community on campus.
For more information about LGBTQ+ resources at the University of Arizona, visit LGBTQ Affairs Resources.
Follow the Daily Wildcat on Twitter