Despite the great achievements this country has made in

eradicating institutionalized forms of discrimination, bigotry continues to pervade our society, in both overt and subtle ways. As educated and active citizens, we should continually strive to recognize the prejudice that still surrounds us.

I could not disagree more with Mike Glick’s (COL ’05) assertion that GUPride “overreacted” to a certain Boston Area Club e-mail [“Students Use Honest Mistake as Soapbox,” The Hoya, Oct. 24, 2003, p.2]. Members of GUPride and the larger community have every right to be outraged by such incidents, and the intervention by the administration is commendable. The e-mail, citing a picture labeled “Yankee butt sex” as a reason to hate the Yankees, was clearly homophobic. Since it didn’t explicitly use the word gay, homosexual or fag, many people wrote it off as an honest mistake. Perhaps it was, but that does not change the fact that it was discriminatory and that it angered a large part of our campus. We don’t mean to attack the author of this e-mail, or to imply that by writing this e-mail he is homophobic. Honest mistakes happen and are forgivable, but they highlight how our words and actions affect the world around us. The lessons learned from such mistakes compel us to educate ourselves and our peers.

One important but relatively unknown group working to educate and identify allies in struggles against intolerance is SafeZones. Created in 1998, the mission of the SafeZones program is to commit members of the Georgetown community to ensuring a safe environment for all students, faculty and staff. Its purpose is to recruit LGTBQ allies. Allies are more than supporters; they are advocates for the LGTBQ community and related issues, they provide resources and appropriate referrals and they are willing to take action should the need arise. Being an ally is a commitment that requires active participation, engagement and ongoing education and awareness.

Those of us who feel completely comfortable at Georgetown often take it for granted. One of the realities of being LGBTQ is feeling targeted for feelings and behaviors that no one among the straight population notices. Think of the times you walk with your boyfriend or girlfriend, holding his or her hand. This innocent and simple act of affection is one that LGBTQ people rarely feel free to do. When an LGBTQ person holds his or her partner’s hand, they rarely do it without thinking, for it is an act that opens them up to ridicule, harassment and sometimes violence. We shouldn’t accept this as just the way it is; instead, we should actively work to make Georgetown better than that. The Georgetown mission is to educate the whole person. Part of completing your whole education is to engage yourself in the building of inclusive communities, in the hope that what you learn at Georgetown will be applied to your future life and achievements.

Let’s learn as a campus how to make Georgetown a safe and welcoming community for all its members.

Gladys Cisneros is a senior in the School of Foreign Service.

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