Jun 25, 2019
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The Arne Nixson Center for the Study of Children’s Literature booth displays the various LGBT-themed children’s books it has available. Jennifer Crow (left) explains the different resources the center has available. Roe Borunda / The Collegian

Be The Change encourages equality

The Arne Nixon Center for the Study of Children’s Literature booth displays the various LGBT-themed children’s books it has available. Jennifer Crow (left) explains the different resources the center has available.
Roe Borunda / The Collegian

The United Student Pride club filled the Free Speech Area Tuesday in an effort to bring awareness the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transsexual community with its Be the Change event.

It is the third Be The Change put on by the club. The USP is dedicated to promoting tolerance, diversity, acceptance and respect for all students on campus. The event is for the LGBT youth who face issues in the Central Valley. Guest speakers and student artwork and performances were featured.

Ryan Anthony Casarez-Merrell, the USP treasurer, was in charge of the event.

“It’s a really important event because there is still a lot of flagrant discrimination in the Central Valley, especially against the LGBT youth,” Casarez-Merrell said.

United Student Pride was formed in 1987 at Fresno State under the name, Gay and Lesbian Student Alliance.

The group began in an effort to unite against homophobia. The club is known for starting Fresno’s first gay and lesbian festival – Reel Pride Film Festival.

Almost a dozen booths lined the path leading to the Henry Madden Library as part of the event.

“Putting on this event brings awareness and will hopefully inspire others to pause and think before they do anything that would be considered harassment or discrimination,” Casarez-Merrell said. “When I leave State, I want to feel like I made a difference.”

Five guest speakers from organizations from Fresno, including Gay Central Valley, The LGBT Center, Trans-E-Motion and Women’s Alliance, came to show their support to the LGBT community at Fresno State.

The Cali Drag Kings band played in The Pit and the USP showed the film “Out in the Silence,” in the Peters Business Building.

Zoyer Zyndel, the event coordinator, found the event very successful.

“We have had visible support from other organizations in our community and outside the LGBT community as well,” Zyndel said. “Our mission was to bring more LGBT awareness and visibility and I really think we did that today.”

Zyndel stressed that people should know that there are resources out there for LGBT students and that they have a place in the community.

“I like people. I like helping people and I want to help people in my community,” Zyndel said.

Among the booths was The Arne Nixon Center for the Study of Children’s Literature on campus. LGBT awareness starts with children’s literature. Jennifer Crow, a member of the Arne center, manned the booth and answered questions.

The center is located on the third floor in the south wing of the Henry Madden Library. A wide range of children’s literature of about 55,000 books is located in the center with a vast collection of LGBT themed children’s books, Crow said.

The collection began with donations. Now, the center orders the books they wish to have.

“We think this is probably the largest collection of its type for children and young adults in the nation,” Crow said.

Crow said that having books like these available will help prevent bullying among young people.

“It’s really important that as children, people understand that they see themselves reflected in our culture,” Crow said. “It’s also important for the kids that aren’t LGBT to see LGBT people reflected in our culture so that they know they can become allies as well.”

The event attracted many students, including Karen Jimenez, a junior majoring in geography.

“After having the free speech area used for some pretty hateful things, it is nice to have it used for good, positive events like this,” Jimenez said. “It’s nice to know that gay people can know that they can be themselves here in the Central Valley.”

“A lot of people at the event today were not LGBT, but it didn’t matter,” Zyndel said. “We were all here for the same cause – equality.”

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