Queer Straight Alliance wants changes at MSU

By EMILY FOWLER/Montana State News

Montana State University’s Queer Straight Alliance has issued a call to action regarding LBGTQIA rights and support on campus.

In response to Gov. Steve Bullock’s executive order protecting state employees against discrimination based on gender and sexual preference, MSU’s Queer Straight Alliance issued a set of demands for institutional change on Tuesday Jan. 19.

President Waded Cruzado will meet with the QSA representatives next week to discuss the call to action regarding Lesbian Bisexual Gay Trans Queer Intersex Asexual rights and support on campus.

The letter, posted to the QSA MSU Facebook page, lists their demands. They not only include a designated  staff person in the Diversity Awareness Office, but also a plan to construct gender neutral bathrooms in the dorms and in all new and remodeled buildings by 2020. Further requests include pairing of gay and transgender students with accepting students in the dorms, increased use of inclusive language among all persons of authority at the school, and the establishment of a system that allows preferred name and gender on all MSU forms and documents.

Alex Paterson, president of the QSA, has said that the infrastructures offered to gay and transgender students on campus are currently weak – the Diversity Office is small and lacks adequate resources to serve these students. However, it could be argued that these students are most in need of support, more than what the Diversity Office is currently offering at this time.

Gay and transgender students ”have resigned themselves that verbal harassment and homophobic slurs are simply part of the culture on campus,” according to the demands on QSA MSU Facebook page

According to MSU Diversity Awareness survey in Spring 2015, 53 percent of gay or transgender students feel they need to conceal or change themselves in order to avoid harassment or discrimination on campus. Furthermore, students on campus who don’t identify with their gender from birth report fearing for their physical safety twice as much as males identifying with their gender. And 32.5 percent of respondents reported that incidents of harassment occurred in the classroom.

Gov. Steve Bullock’s executive order issued Jan. 18, states that it was created, among other reasons, to “Develop and implement policies necessary to ensure that all persons employed or served by state government are afforded equal opportunity, without discrimination…” Paterson believes that MSU would be correct in responding with more school policy aimed at acceptance and inclusion for these students on campus.

-Edited by Zach Fent

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