Student organization promotes diversity, acceptance

by MATT MOLINAR//Associate Editor

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Solidarity is the main objective for one student organization at South Plains College.

SPeCtra, formerly known as the Gay-Straight Alliance, has begun taking action to counter bullying on campus.

In a meeting held on Feb. 23 in the Founder’s Room of the Student Center on the Levelland Campus at 7 p.m., they discussed International Stand Up to Bullying Day, volunteer schedules and other events center around promoting non-discrimination.

Dr. Kristina Keyton, psychology and humanities instructor at the Reese Center campus, says the organization went through a name change recently as a step to becoming more “inclusive.”

“We realized that a lot of the things we were doing were beyond just creating an alliance between gay and straight (students and others),” Dr. Keyton told the Plainsman Press. “We wanted to broaden out to other intersecting spectrums.”

Celeste Franco, president of SPeCtra, began the meeting by explaining their collaborative volunteer projects with First Carpenter’s Church in Lubbock.

“We are currently looking for volunteers to come with us,” Franco said. “From 10 p.m. to 12 p.m. every first Saturday of the month, we have a continuing commitment to volunteer with the church.”

The next SPeCtra meeting is scheduled for Mar. 10 at the SPC Reese Center campus. The meeting will feature the parents of PFLAG, Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, as guest speakers.

“I actually started coming to GSA meetings as a freshman in high school,” Franco said. “The first meeting I attended was when we listened to PFLAG parents speak. I cried so much. Going to this meeting will change your outlook on stuff.”

Franco says SPeCtra’s main goal is to diversify the campus and educate on the struggles the LGBT+ community faces.

Franco also announced that SPeCtra plans on hosting a garage sale in April. Half of the procedes will be donated to First Carpenter’s Church. Stations will be set up in libraries at both the Levelland and the Reese Center campuses where you can donate.

“So, if you’re doing any spring cleaning, keep us in mind,” Franco said. “Just drop it off in the library.”

Samantha Jaramillo, historian of SPeCtra, coordinates the social media for the group. She discussed how the student organization has been utilizing social media to reach out to more people. She says they post almost daily about local and national LGBT+ events and news.

“Our handle is @spectralgbtqiallies for both Instagram and Twitter,” Jaramillo added. “We’ll keep you posted on meetings and volunteer work. If you have any questions, you can contact us through our social media.”

Stand Up to Bullying Day is a semi-annual event that takes place on the third Friday of November and on the last Friday of February. Franco says the first official day took place in 2008 with a student who was bullied for wearing pink.

“What we do is wear pink shirts and sign an anti-bullying pledge in solidarity,” Franco said. “We want to create a safe place for everybody.”

According to the National Center for Educational Statistics, one in five students reported being bullied in 2016. Franco says 74.1 percent of LGBT+ students report being bullied.

“So, what can we do?” Franco asked. “We need to create a place that is safe for people when their institutions are not. A place they can come to when they need help. More than half of bullying is stopped with intervention. So, let’s stand up to bullying.”

[Photo by MATT MOLINAR/ PLAINSMAN PRESS]

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