Written by the Carlow Chronicle Staff
During a time of political polarization and abuse of human rights, the United States can be a frightening and dangerous place for some to live in. Safe spaces for marginalized groups become increasingly important, especially for young people, and LGBTQCU, Carlow University’s LGBTQ+ club, is striving to create that safe space for students.
LGBTQCU (LGBTQ Carlow University) is a student-run club whose goals are to create a safe space for LGBTQ+ students and to make a positive impact on the Carlow community. The club recently started back up in the Fall 2019 semester, and they have been a growing and active club since then.
“I think the purpose of the club is really, truly to create a safe space, and not only a safe space, but a space that [queer people] want to be in,” says Kar Miller, junior-creative writing and liberal studies double major and president of LGBTQCU. Students from the club say that Carlow is a very LGBTQ-friendly college, considering its strong roots in social justice and its empowerment of diverse students, but it is still beneficial to have a club specifically made to be a safe space for queer students.
The club also emphasizes the importance of always including queer and trans black women and “anybody who isn’t a queer, cis white person” in safe spaces. “[We] try to remember [that] if a black trans woman wouldn’t feel welcome here, then [we] don’t want this place to be something [we] created,” says Miller. Black transgender women and gender non-conforming people are disproportionately affected by hate crimes, transphobia, and fatal violence, so safe spaces need to be inclusive and welcoming of all intersecting identities to ensure the comfort and physical safety of those who want to be involved.
The club isn’t only a safe space though. Miller says, “I think the biggest thing for all of us is we want to see change where we think change needs to happen…on a collegiate, social, and political scale.” LGBTQCU wants to make an impact on the Carlow community and Pittsburgh through their events, lobbying, and fundraisers. They recently gained a budget from Carlow that allows them to have events and gain new club members.
Some of their events are fun activities for students on campus, like their recent outdoor tie-dye event on Oct. 1, where students tie-dyed T-shirts and masks with LGBTQ+ pride and school spirit colors. Their next upcoming event is a Halloween party on campus from 6-8 p.m. on Oct. 30, which will include food and drinks, craft tables, dancing, a photo booth, and a costume contest. Students must register in advance online due to social distancing regulations.
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, LGBTQCU’s plans to lobby in downtown Pittsburgh have been changed to lobbying through writing letters to politicians and encouraging others to do the same while stressing the importance of LGBTQ+ rights and protections. Their social justice outreach has gone virtual on their social media, encouraging people to vote and enact positive change. They also plan to conduct fundraisers for trans and intersex foundations and HIV/AIDS research during their respective awareness weeks.
Not only is there safety and community in the club that is desperately needed by some LGBTQ+ students, but there is also passion and determination to create a better future through social and political action. “I remember wanting a group like this in high school so badly – to have a group of people who were also like me,” says Miller, who has helped the club grow to over 40 members and become a strong presence at Carlow.