Spectrum to spread awareness about 'straight allies'

GLBT student organization tells how everyone can work together to promote equal rights

Spectrum will have a table set up in the Atrium on Tuesday and Wednesday as part of Straight Alliance Week.

Members of Ball State University's gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and straight ally organization will be on hand from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. to spread awareness about what a straight ally is and to squash misconceptions of the GLBT community.

It will be the first time Spectrum has set up a table for Straight Alliance Week, which is dedicated to encourage people to be allies against anti-GLBT bullying and harassment.

Spectrum President Damon Clevenger said he wants people to know they don't have to be gay to be against hate crimes and to believe in equal rights.

A straight ally is someone who is a friend and confidant for members of the GLBT community, Clevenger said. It's also someone who shows people to treat others with kindness and respect, regardless of sexuality.

The organization will have handouts defining what a straight ally is and will inform students about how they can help fight for equal rights, he said.

"We wanted to take time to recognize our straight allies, because they're so important," Clevenger said. "They help advocate for our rights and for equality."

Straight ally Jessica Walters said allies are people who anyone in the gay community can talk to or ask questions of.

"They lend a helping hand or a shoulder to cry on," she said.

Clevenger said Spectrum is a non-exclusive organization and he wants to include everyone, gay or straight.

"We want to be included so we want to get the straight community to stand with us for equality," he said. "You can be straight, have fun and be a part of the community."

Walters said she thinks the GLBT community needs more straight allies to step up.

"Allies are important because [GLBT members] need someone on their side," Walters said. "I feel there's a bit of a shortage and people should get involved and express how they feel about the GLBT community."

Clevenger said the overall goal of the week is to spread awareness on GLBT issues and how to deal with them, as well as to encourage people to come to Spectrum meetings.

"Ideally, I hope everyone who goes to the Atrium will look at our table," he said. "In the next year or two, or even semester, I'd like to see an increase of attendance at our meetings and events."

Spectrum meets at 8 p.m. Thursdays in the L.A. Pittenger Student Center Room 301.


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