Honoring and Supporting LGBTQ+ History Month

LGBTQ+ History Month was created in 1994 by a high school history teacher in Missouri named Rodney Wilson (GLAAD.org). According to the Library of Congress, a resolution was passed in 1995 by the General Assembly of the National Education Association to include LGBT History Month within a list of commemorative months. October is an important month to have designated as LGBTQ+ History Month because is encompasses Ally Week (October 5-9) (GLSEN.org), National Coming Out Day (October 11), the anniversary of Matthew Shepard's murder on October 12, 1998, which resulted in the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, and the anniversary of the first LGBT March on Washington in 1979.

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C.H.A.T. and the Gay Straight Alliance

To honor and support LGBTQ+ History Month, we want to first provide some history on UNA’s LGBTQ+ and ally’s student group and then share some activities that we have planned for this month. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, there was considerable attention on public health activism aimed at raising awareness around HIV/AIDS and combatting the homophobia that many in the LGBTQ+ community experienced. The Campus HIV Awareness Task Force (C.H.A.T. Force) at UNA was formed in the mid- to late-1990s to act as a resource for HIV education to all UNA constituents. In the early 2000s (the paperwork that I have been able to locate suggests 2003), the Gay Straight Alliance (GSA) was formed at UNA to promote mutually supportive relationships among all students and members of the surrounding community in the interest of advancing campus and community diversity. In the preamble of the constitution for the GSA, it stated that “we believe that Florence and the University of North Alabama are strengthened by the diversity of people and ideas and that each person has worth and should be treated with dignity and respect.” The GSA’s purpose was to provide support for LGBTQ+ individuals and allies, educate the campus and community about LGBTQ+ issues, and to establish a campus and community free of prejudice based on sexual orientation and gender and to encourage activities that foster a positive, supportive, respectful, and thoughtful community. The organization was active around campus and organized a conference in 2005 with roundtables and panels that included speakers from across the state and local community.

you are worthy
we welcome everyone


Student Alliance for Equality

In 2012, the GSA transitioned to the Student Alliance for Equality (SAFE). The early constitution for SAFE stated that the organization was focused on working towards a more tolerant and positive environment for LGBTQ+ students and allies at UNA. The purpose and mission was later rearticulated with a focus on positively representing the student LGBTQ+ and ally community at UNA, presenting a supportive environment to members by participating in UNA events and community service projects, and familiarizing the UNA campus with the LGBTQ+ student community. In the constitution, it also states that SAFE aims to provide social opportunities outside of meeting times with a comfortable environment for members to be themselves and face issues related to the LGBTQ + student community without judgment. Further, that SAFE envisions a campus normalized to matters pertaining to the LGBTQ+ student community and characterized by practices promoting equity and justice. In addition to regular meetings and hang-outs, SAFE organizes the annual SAFE Show which is an open mic event for students and the Second Chance Prom.

you are safe


Honoring the History of LGBTQ+ Student Organizations at UNA

Our student organizations at UNA have led the way for the work we do today. In honoring their legacy the many trailblazers that have impacted social change, and LGBTQ+ History Month, we have several activities planned for October. Our October 8 workshop is “Resisting Performative Allyship” in partnership with UNA’s Community Service and Outreach. This workshop addresses the many critiques of allyship as both a concept and identity. Using Tania D. Mitchell’s model for critical service-learning, the workshop led by Break Away will discuss the differences between charity and justice work and share strategies to move toward a solidarity approach to service. We will also have an ally training in partnership with Equality Shoals on October 14 at 7:00 based on our UNA Safe Zone training model. Our final event in October in honor of LGBTQ+ History Month is on October 18 in partnership with Equality Shoals and will feature a discussion with Alok who is a gender non-conforming writer and performance artist who uses poetry, prose, comedy, performance, fashion design, and portraiture to explore themes of gender, race, trauma, belonging, and the human condition.

una safe zone

We invite you to join us in a month of celebration of LGBTQ history and the work that still needs to be done to ensure equality for all people. Feel free to repost our LGBTQ History Month graphics below via social media using the possible caption provided underneath the graphics below or any caption of your choosing. Be sure to tag us @unainclusion

love wins
love is love

(Possible) Caption for photo: I join the Mitchell-West Center for Social Inclusion in the celebration of LGBTQ History Month. I acknowledge the impact that LGBTQ trailblazers have had on history at the local, national, and global level. I stand in solidarity for the equal rights of all! #myuna #unainclusion