LACCD promotes LGBTQIA+ history month

The district honors gay and transgender community members across its nine campuses.

By Marcos Franco, Managing Editor

The district honors LGBTQIA+ members across its nine campuses during October history month. (Graphic Illustration by Matthew Royer/The Valley Star)

The LACCD Board of Trustees recently passed a resolution proclaiming October as LGBTQIA+ history month.

While pride month is celebrated in June throughout the United States, LACCD declares October to represent the more than 20,000 LGBTQIA+ students across the district. In honor of history month, the district is hosting events online and in person through Nov. 5 at select campuses to promote gay and queer history, although Valley College does not have any events planned other than regularly scheduled Gay Straight Alliance club meetings.

“It is imperative that students feel safe and [are] able to express themselves,” said Trustee David Vela, Chair of the LGBTQIA+ Chancellor’s Advisory Committee. “Our Lavender graduations would not be possible without the heroic efforts of LGBT leaders who sacrificed so much, including their lives, for us to live freely. LGBTQIA+ history month highlights the history of the LGBTQ movement and those who contributed to the movement.”

Lavender Graduation is a ceremony honoring LGBTQIA+ students, extending beyond the standard celebration of academic achievement. Not only are their academic accomplishments recognized during their time as a part of the district, but it also helps them connect with other gay and transgender members in the community.

The Board of Trustees plans to approve an LGBT history course at East LA College on Oct. 19, making it the fourth campus with a queer studies program.

The GSA club at Valley was created to promote student visibility and create a comfortable on-campus environment where members can be proud of who they are and thrive through meeting like-minded people.

Pride month commemorates the June 1969 New York Stonewall riots where protests and violent clashes between gay-rights activists and law enforcement lasted six days. After suspicions of alcohol being served at a suspected gay bar, the New York State Liquor Authority moved to shut down the Stonewall Inn, an underground gay club in Manhattan’s Greenwhich Village. Police were dispatched to clear out the club, leading to the riots.

One year after the riots, on June 28, 1970, the first gay pride parades in the world were held simultaneously in New York, San Francisco, Chicago and Los Angeles. According to the Los Angeles Almanac, the march beginning in Hollywood Boulevard and McCadden Place in Hollywood, was organized by Rev. Robert Humphries, Morris Knight and Rev. Troy Perry. The march hosted an estimated 50,000 spectators and was the only officially-permitted parade at the time.

The gay and trans community has a history of falling victim to violent crimes with sexual orientation or gender being the driving force behind 20 percent of the total U.S. hate crimes in 2014 accoring to National Geographic. While anti-gay hate crimes fell slightly in 2020, anti-trans crimes rose nearly 20 percent according to NBC News.

“We have to speak up for our trans community and help them create a louder voice,” said Vela. “We need to request that the crimes are investigated fully and elect sheriffs and mayors who care.”

With 13 states in the United States still holding legislation against gay marriage, the community continues to push for civil marriage rights throughout the country. The first same-sex marriage was held in San Francisco on Feb. 12, 2004 between lesbian activists Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon. The two were wed after 50 years of being in a relationship according to World Population Review. The move came following — at the time — Mayor Gavin Newsom’s order for city hall to issue marriage license to same sex couples.

LGBTQIA+ history month recognizes the resilience and determination of those who continue the fight to live freely and equally in society, vouching to protect and help vulnerable groups thrive. The district continues to advocate for gay and trans students across its nine campuses.

“The district has affirmed the lives of students of diverse identities and amplified the voices of those who have felt silenced through its groundbreaking LGBTQIA+ Bill of Rights,” read a statement on the board’s resolution. “We promote a safe and inspiring teaching and learning environment free from discrimination and harassment for our students, and ensure equal and equitable access to our educational programs.”

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