Civil rights exhibit displays surprising LGBTQ realities

South Puget Sound Community College held its second annual Civil Rights Exhibit in order to increase awareness about issues and history regarding the Lesbian Bisexual Gay Transgender and Queer community. The event was put on by the combined efforts of the Queer-Straight Alliance as well as the Diversity and Equity Center.

“This exhibit is dedicated to those who came before us, paving the way for a better tomorrow,” read the sign with the official statement for the exhibit.

The Food and Drug Association’s ban on men who sleep with men blood donation and the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell in the United States military were two of the topics highlighted at the exhibit. The ban on blood donations caught several students’ attention in particular. The FDA’s policy on men who sleep with men blood donations remains unaltered since 1992. Students were unaware that such a thing exists today.

SPSCC student, Shawna Howard, said it was “an outdated law” and that the information given about the ban was by far the most interesting thing she discovered at the exhibit.

Anye Turner, another student, also said that he thought the ban was shocking and unjust.

For Abnormal Psychology Professor Amy Kassler the point of bringing her students to the exhibit was to start discussions about topics that many people do not bring up a lot and therefore are not very well versed in. Kassler wanted the exhibit to help clear up student misconceptions.

Information on the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell was added in the exhibit just this year, because of the recent nature of the change in policy. This new information was presented on posters directly in the middle of the exhibit, to catch the attention of attendees as a significant step in equal employment rights for people of all sexual orientations.

“I don’t think a lot of people know anything about this,” said exhibit volunteer Jen Keach. “They hear what most people hear and what most people say, but that’s probably not the whole truth.”

During spring quarter 2010 the “Breaking Free” exhibit was held. This exhibit included a variety of topics about diversity issues that DEC wanted to highlight for students.

Sammy Harvell, another exhibit volunteer, wanted to bring attention to the maps displaying the states in the country that have employment rights and those that do not. He felt as though this could really shock the SPSCC community due to the great amount of rights being denied.

The new transgender gallery was a feature of the exhibit that Harvell put a lot of work into. As a first time exhibit volunteer he noticed there was not much in regards to the transgender community and got to work creating brand new posters.

“I thought it was really imperative,” said Harvell.

One piece of history the posters explain is the Compton Cafeteria riots which preceded the Stonewall riots. In 1966, police were called to force transgender people to evacuate an afterhours cafeteria in San Francisco. The transgender people were part of a group they had formed against discrimination in the cafeteria and rose up and fought police forces.

Both added to the power of beginning advocacy movements in transgender history.

Harvell wanted to include important events and facts about the history of the transgender community that many people may not be aware of.

Other posters displayed information on parenting laws, marriage benefits, Proposition 8, LGBTQ community suicides, the Defense of Marriage Act, state hate crime laws, state housing and employment policies, the Washington state freedom from discrimination law, and a transgender biography gallery.

Shrader wore the slogan “No H8” on his face at the exhibit to protest Proposition 8. In 2008 Proposition 8 was passed in California to only recognize marriages between a man and a woman. The amendment was added to the California Constitution but was later deemed unconstitutional under the United States Constitution in 2010.