A Rainbow of Initiatives

What do Skittles, stick-on ribbons, and a $150 gift check have in common? No, they are not all ways to bribe your way out of a TOM midterm. They were part of the Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, Transgender Student Association’s (LGBTSA) celebration of National Coming Out Day (NCOD).

Held annually on October 11th, National Coming Out Day (NCOD) commemorates the anniversary of a 1987 march on Washington for gay and lesbian equal rights. In commemorating this historic event, the day is aimed at raising awareness and support for the gay community among the nation’s general populace and at empowering gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and allied Americans to live openly and honestly. This year’s theme, “Talk About It,” is especially relevant to HBS, where the desire to create an open, safe environment begins with each student’s willingness to listen to and appreciate the lifestyles of their peers. NCOD is celebrated from coast-to-coast by thousands of individuals dedicated to showing their support for equal rights and openness everywhere.

Here at HBS, the LGBTSA promoted activities throughout the day to celebrate the diversity of the student body and let lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning students know HBS is a place they can feel comfortable exploring their sexuality and their preferences (in ways more constructive than what usually happens after one too many Scorpion Bowls at the Kong).

The day started off with e-mails to each section explaining the intent for NCOD and how it originated. Then, RCs arriving to class, energized from their learning team study groups, were greeted by a rainbow ribbon sticker and a card explaining what NCOD was and encouraging them to wear the ribbon to show their support for a diverse and open campus.

By lunchtime, the festivities were in full swing. With financial sponsorship from the Boston Consulting Group Diversity Practice Area, the LGBTSA set up a table in the Grille with informational pamphlets for students concerned about coming out, information on the Human Rights Campaign efforts to support Gay and Lesbian equal rights throughout society, and of course oodles of goodies.

Besides Skittles, sets of pens and playing cards from corporate sponsors, there was a five-question quiz (“The easiest quiz you’ll ever take” according to LGBTSA co-president Jon Pollock, who quickly pointed out that the answers were listed at the bottom of the sheet), with a prize of a $150 gift check going to one lucky submitter. The quiz included startling facts such as the reality that 36 states currently allow discrimination based on sexual preference. “What that means,” club member Brian Elliot points out, “is that in 36 states, I could fire you for being straight and you would have no recourse.” Though many who came by the LGBTSA table were astounded by some of the facts they heard, all came away with an increased understanding of the role of LGBT people in society and on campus, and how they themselves can continue to support these individuals’ lifestyles.