Student Life Will Host More LGBT-Focused Events in the Future


In Washington state, more than 340,000 residents identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT), according to the Movement Advancement Project. Redfin ranked Seattle’s Pride Parade the third most popular in the U.S. in 2016. Tacoma and Olympia host local pride parades and festivals every year, as well.

Although there is representation for the LGBT community around the state, Pierce College Fort Steilacoom seems to be lacking LGBT inclusivity for its own events.

The Puyallup campus hosts LGBT-related events regularly. This quarter, it is including two events on its calendar: a movie showing of “Love, Simon” and an off-campus celebrity impersonation drag show.

I think the best way to help LGBT students feel more represented is to communicate with them.”

— Madeline Buchanan

On the other hand, the Fort Steilacoom campus is not holding events for its LGBT students this quarter. The only event held in the past year through the Multicultural Leadership Institute (MLI) had little advertisement and low turnout.

What makes Puyallup more inclined to hold events for its LGBT students? The larger population of LGBT students at Puyallup means more requests are submitted for events that represent them.

This quarter, Puyallup reported 361 LGBT students compared with 286 students at Fort Steilacoom, said Carly Haddon, a Pierce College data solutions developer and analyst. Puyallup also enrolled 1,150 more students this quarter compared with the Fort Steilacoom campus.

Puyallup’s Vice President of Activities Madeline Buchanan said in an email that Student Life receives several requests for LGBT-related events. “(We) do our best each quarter to put on relevant, educational and fun events for not only our LGBTQ+ students but our entire student body.”

Buchanan added, “Making sure our students’ voices are heard is something we take very seriously whether it be through supporting the GSA (Gay-Straight Alliance) club, planning events focusing on LGBT issues or advocating for our LGBT students in Student Government.”

Aidan Helt, Fort Steilacoom’s Issues and Awareness Coordinator, said no one has requested an event so far this year. “It’s been on my radar since I was hired,” she said.

While there are few events for LGBT students to partake in, the Fort Steilacoom campus still welcomes LGBT community members. Leigh Rooney, a newly hired Digital Design instructor, has only had a good experience so far.

Karley Wise / Staff Illustration

“I feel completely welcomed and accepted – not just tolerated, which is an important distinction for me – as an out lesbian at Pierce,” Rooney stated in an email. “All the students, faculty and staff I have encountered have been warm, kind and refreshingly open.”

Regarding what to do to increase LGBT representation at either campus, Buchanan said, “I think the best way to help LGBT students feel more represented is to communicate with them. Voice that you are wanting to create a safe and inclusive space and listen to their ideas.”
In turn, Helt said she plans to provide more LGBT-centered events at the Fort Steilacoom campus this year.

“I believe that they are a highly underrepresented population, and I hope to coordinate with the clubs on campus to have a Pride event in the spring quarter,” Helt said. She also said she plans to work with the newly ratified Queer Support Club on upcoming events.

For clubs looking to hold their own events, Cameron Cox, director of student programs, encourages them to talk to Student Life or the MLI for support. “I wish clubs would understand the power they have,” he said. “Sometimes, I feel like clubs are almost as powerful as Student Government in advocating (for their community).”