Southern Utah University’s Pride and Equality Club hosted one of over 100 walkouts across the United States to protest discrimination against LGBTQIA+ students in federally funded universities.
The group met on the Upper Quad at noon on Tuesday, Oct. 12, with flags and signs in hand to voice their concerns about the issue.
The event began with four minutes of silence, each of which signified a year that students spend suppressing their true identities at these universities. The organizers then asked willing attendees to step forward to the microphone and speak about their ordeals.
Many students talked about their experiences involving coming out to religious family members, while others used the platform to begin the process of coming out and sharing who they are.
Garn Hughes, the current PAEC president, used the platform to discuss how far SUU has come in the process of accepting LGBTQIA+ students.
“I am a senior here, and four years ago was my freshman year,” Hughes said. “I want to say this place was not as accepting as it is today. I continually came up against these challenges day in and day out that I had to struggle with. But we overcame those challenges, and I’ve worked with the administration for the past four years to help get it a little better.”
Brook Ober, a member of the PAEC and one of the lead speakers at the walkout, ended the event by expressing gratitude for those in attendance, as well as an appreciation for those at similar events across the nation.
“There is power in unity,” Ober said. “Despite the physical distance that might be separating us from the other universities participating in this demonstration, today and until the end of this fight, we, together, are calling for the striking out of homophobia.”
A link was shared so students can sign a petition to show their support, which can be found here.
Story and Photo by: Luke McKenzie