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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

LGBTQ groups broaden definition of family

Providing student support and making sure every family feels represented during Family Weekend is the Office of LGBTQ Affairs and ASUA Pride Alliance’s goal.

Today from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. the Office of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning Affairs and ASUA Pride Alliance will be hosting the Rainbow Family Reception for LGBTQ people and their allies.

“”It’s just a really good outlet to have during Family Weekend — especially for kids that may be struggling with their sexuality and they want their parents to be in tune,”” said Christian Bracamonte, former ASUA Pride Alliance intern and a senior majoring in family studies and human development.

The reception offers a chance for students and parents to socialize and check out the support UA offers for LGBTQ students — a support that Bracamonte feels is more crucial than ever in light of several suicides this past month.

“”We are trying to get to the point of making people realize that ignorance and hatred — it takes lives,”” Bracamonte said. “”If they don’t feel like they have the support, they will take their (own) lives. It’s literally an issue of these kids lives now.””

Bracamonte considers himself very lucky growing up with a mom who is very supportive.

When Bracamonte’s mom attended an LGBTQ event on campus, Bracamonte said she felt for the students who did not have supportive parents.

“”She was just amazed at how many students were just like, ‘Oh, I wish my mom would come,'”” Bracamonte said.

Just because a student may be out and proud, it doesn’t mean their parents are, Bracamonte said, and it wasn’t until coming to college and seeing people who are adults who don’t have that support that he realized how lucky he was.

Jennifer Hoefle, program director for the Office of LGBTQ Affairs, emphasizes the idea of support, noting that many students aren’t out when they get to the UA, so having services and support for all students is imperative.

“”Coming out is different for every person,”” Hoefle said. “”Some people lose people some people lose everyone.””

Hoefle says that in light of the recent suicides, they are looking at just how much it means to connect.

“”I’ve had students say that it’s (having support that) saved them,”” Hoefle said. “”If you connect to people and connect to community — that’s often what people need to feel accepted and loved in their lives.””

Parents appreciate seeing support for their students and their family, Hoefle said.

Last year Hoefle had a parent tell her “”seeing this rainbow family event on the list of events for Family Weekend is what made me know that there would be a place for me and my family that weekend.””

Jai Smith, ASUA Pride Alliance co-director and sociology senior, said that last year they had a large turnout with many LGBTQ parents who had allied students in attendance.

“”(LGBTQ parents) were excited to see something that was affirming LGBT families and it made them feel more welcome and affirmed on campus,”” Smith said.

This is the third year they have done the reception for Family Weekend and attendance has steadily grown.

“”Last year I remember people being happy that it was there and slowly telling their families about it,”” Bracamonte said. “”I think it will probably be the biggest it has been this year.””

LGBTQ alumni who have students attending the UA are glad to see what the support UA now offers according to Bracamonte.

“”(LGBTQ alumni) were just really proud that, that was even there at the school, they are happy it was there because it wasn’t there for them,”” Bracamonte said.

This year PFLAG Tucson: Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays will be at the event and sending some supportive parents of LGBTQ students.

“”If your family is not supportive and not coming to Family Weekend — because sadly that is the case for some of our LGBTQ students — then come to this reception,”” Hoefle said. “”If you don’t come from a family that is supportive … whatever that case may be for you, then you can come and get that family … this would be a chance to get that feeling even if its not your parents or biological family.””

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