What is in a Name?
Upon viewing the list of student clubs at HFC, one thing struck me as oddly absent. Amongst the more than thirty options for clubs and organizations, I saw no mention of a club oriented towards the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender) students and the issues they face. After speaking with several faculty members, I found that the school did in fact have a Gay and Straight Alliance at one time which was later renamed the Diversity Club.
The problem with the title of the student organization is that to call it a “Diversity Club” is to skew its purpose and identity. There is an abundance of current Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender students as well as alumni of Henry Ford College. It’s hard to imagine that the student body does not have the enthusiasm to maintain a club for just LGBT issues.
The title “Diversity Club,” changes the club’s intent of promoting a dialogue on the issue of sexuality and individual rights. By viewing the online description through the HFC website, a person would not even know that it was in fact LGBT oriented. The site states that the club “fosters a learning and understanding of the various student populations at Henry Ford Community College. Works to educate and challenge the student body to think critically about our differences, and to establish an atmosphere of tolerance at HFCC.”
It was not until I happened across one of the posters for the club in the technology building that I was even aware of the relationship between the Diversity Club and any LGBT initiative. The word “diversity” covers a broad spectrum of inclusion. The school already has clubs that deal with specific cultural, racial, and religious issues of diversity. The purpose of an LGBT oriented club or organization is to reflect on and discuss the specific issues and challenges that face our communities.
In a state filled with discrimination against these groups of people, a state where we are not a protected class of citizens for housing or work, where submitting minors to gay conversion therapy is legal, the need to organize is key to changing the culture of stigma and intolerance.
My intent is not to say that the club does not in fact address some of these issues. The point is that we have a LGBT club that is in the closet. The act of renaming the club perpetuates the idea that society can tolerate homosexuality as long as our community does not intend to have an open and honest conversation about it.