On April 9th we organized a solidarity action for Soulforce's #GiveBackIX campaign in partnership with Campus Pride at our 30th annual Pomona-Pitzer Track and Field Invitational in Southern California.
Out of the 47 schools that competed at the meet, 10 have anti-LGBTQI policies in place or have Title IX exemptions to openly discriminate against LGBTQI students. Our goal was to raise awareness for this issue by putting up a simple banner with a simple message:
"Solidarity with Queer and Trans Students at Christian Schools"
We also distributed information to athletes, coaches and spectators. We invited people to take pictures with the banner and share reasons why "giving back" Title IX is crucial to safety and fair play on college campuses.
If there's anything we've learned from this event, it's how lucky we are. Our coaches were incredibly supportive and interested in supporting the action. When introducing the event to our team, our head coach emphasized how important it is to protect Title IX.
Our team support was amazing and exceeded all of our expectations. We found teammates who were more invested in supporting queer and trans students than we would have ever imagined. Many of our teammates shared why they thought Title IX protections for queer students were important and gathered for a picture with the #GiveBackIX banner. They joined other members of the Pomona-Pitzer community in the picture, who also gathered in support and solidarity.
At one point a man from one of the Christian schools purposefully attempted to take down our banner. The man's hatred for what we were doing felt so tangible, but it was met with an equal strength of love right back. We quickly fixed our banner, with many more people offering to help put it back up. This one man's efforts to silence us were no match for the show of support.
The moment was symbolic of the support this movement has against the struggles it faces. While some will always try to take down our movement, there will be so many more people to prop it right back up. There were far more positive conversations, thoughtful questions, and excited supporters than angry or resentful looks.
All of this reminded us that we are fortunate to attend institutions and be part of teams that deeply value protecting queer students and queer rights. It is because of this good fortune that we're reminded how important it is to support students at schools without such supportive policies or atmospheres. Everyone struggling to stay safe, come out, be active, or just come to terms with their identity in those institutions deserves our solidarity.
More than that, they deserve our voices, to push for a system where everyone has the chance to study and compete in an environment as safe and supportive as ours.