Parkland PRIDE, a group dedicated to awareness and equal rights

Zach Trueblood

Staff Writer

One student organization that has seen many name changes, but has still remained true to its core, is Parkland PRIDE. PRIDE is a group where anyone identifying themselves in the LGBT community or as an ally, can come share knowledge and ideas.

The group meets every Friday to talk about upcoming events and have thorough discussions related to the LGBT community. Their main goal is to provide a non-judgmental atmosphere for all students. They tackle issues dealing with sexual orientation, gender identity, and general education on the group.

In the month of October, Parkland PRIDE has been in conjunction with Civility Month. Two events that they’ve sponsored around campus are Hot Coffee and National Coming Out Day.

PRIDE, along with Planned Parenthood, put together Hot Coffee which was a sex positive workshop. They offered free coffee and tea while a speaker gave a presentation about having fun and safe sex.

The group also celebrated National Coming Out Day on Friday, Oct. 10, 2014. They offered popcorn and education to passing students. Many members of PRIDE were in attendance in the college center to help answer questions and raise awareness for the LGBT community.

In celebration of National Coming Out Day they also held a display case in the College Center. The display case contained an assortment of rainbow-themed clothing and a PRIDE flag next to it.

One advisor to Parkland PRIDE is Disability Services Specialist James Albrecht. Albrecht has advised the group for a number of years but has had increased involvement this year.

Albrecht has seen a wide range of students in the past but regarding this year he said, “We have a much larger and more active group this year when compared to recent years. We face membership difficulties just like any other group. Often we lose student leaders to graduation but our current group is doing a great job with leadership roles.”

One major conference that Parkland PRIDE attends is the Midwest Bisexual Lesbian Gay Transgender Ally College Conference.

“It’s a great weekend workshop we attend every year. There’s generally a few thousand in attendance. It really helps teach tools on how to raise awareness in different facets of the community,” Albrecht said.

Communications Major Anna Williams worked one of the tables for National Coming Out Day. Williams is going on her second year in PRIDE.

“It’s a really cool place to hang out with like-minded people. We’re really trying to raise awareness in the community,” Williams stated.

Another advisor involved with Parkland PRIDE is Student Development Advocate Tanino Minneci. Minneci started as a staff adviser in 2011 when the group went by a different name; Q & A.

“Our job as advisors is to provide the students with any structure and support they might need. Our role varies depending on how active the group is. Thankfully our group has been very active this year,” Minneci said.

Minneci has worked alongside others to help map out ideas for Civility Month. Acceptance and civility are a big part of what Parkland PRIDE stands for.

“It’s a safe space, especially if you’re a student coming to terms with the fact that you might be different,” Minecci added.

One goal of the group is to help people deal with the labels that society perpetuates. They want to provide an outlet for anyone whether they are a member of the LGBT community or an ally.

“We welcome people with all kinds of backgrounds. We’re all human and this is a part of who we are. We want to have a respectful support system and we welcome the increase in allies we’ve had,” Minecci stated.

For more information about Parkland PRIDE contact Tanino Minneci at 217-373-3827, gminneci@parkland.edu, or James Albrecht at 217-351-2588, jalbrecht@parkland.edu.