Last fall, Community College of Philadelphia marked the return of its formerly defunct gay-straight alliance and, this semester, the school will incorporate LGBT issues into its annual Civility Week. This is the first year that LGBT issues are at the forefront of the college’s Civility Week, presented by the President’s Diversity Council.
The LGBT inclusion is thanks in large part to the school’s new GSA, which was founded by student and LGBT advocate SharRon L. Cooks.
According to Cooks, the student GSA worked closely with GSA advisor Alison Watts, who also coordinates a GSA for faculty and staff, and David Greene, director of students, to make sure that LGBT issues were present during the event.
“They convinced our president that LGBT issues at Civility Week would be a good way to represent the diversity that CCP stands for,” she said.
Cooks said that, in the past, the college had not been as LGBT-friendly as it could be, so this is a big step forward for CCP.
“I think it says a lot about the progress here,” she said. “I believe that awareness is definitely key and, hopefully, they will start to look at other campuses and other organizations at other college campuses that empower their LGBT students and staff to understand issues and concerns.”
Civility Week also will give the GSA more recognition both on and off campus. “I think we are getting more visibility from not only people who are on campus, but other directors of organizations that are at colleges and community-oriented organizations,” Cooks said.
Civility Week’s keynote speaker is Bob Schoenberg, director of the University of Pennsylvania LGBT Center, who will speak at 11 a.m. April 8 at the Great Hall at the Winnet Student Life Building, 1700 Spring Garden St., about building LGBT resources on campuses.
Civility Week, which will run through April 12, also will feature additional speakers, film screenings, LGBT sensitivity training for faculty and staff and other efforts, all focused on LGBT awareness.
Cooks said she hopes for participation from the entire campus community.
“Their participation and ability to be educated on these issues is really what is most important.”
Cooks said she is excited to have a variety of LGBT organizations and speakers present at Civility Week and grateful for the staff’s help.
“I think it is great that faculty and staff GSA heard what we as students needed and developed programs that were centered around that.”