Students seek to educate about LGBTT community struggles and rights

College students are being more open about their sexuality than they were before.

By: Félix López

On Thursday October 24 a group of students from the University of Puerto Rico – Mayagüez organised a press conference to address LGBTT rights and struggles in Puerto Rico.. Panelists claimed that there have been improvements in LGBTT issues in the recent past but that there is still much work to do to achieve equal rights. 


With participation of School Psychologist, Dr. Bernadette Delgado; Professor of anthropology, Rafael Boglio: Poet and Activist, Gaddiel Ruiz and [move title here to be consistent] Roberto Rivera, spokesperson of Gay-Straight Alliance, the panel discussed the situation for LGBTT people on campus, Puerto Rico’s progress as a gay-friendly territory and the ongoing struggles of the community.


This year Puerto Rico has been experiencing a heated debate over LGBTT rights. Ever since the anti-discrimination bill PS238 which tries to eradicate discrimination of gay people in work enviroments and measure PC488, wich was focused on domestic violence, were signed back on May 24, the controversy hasn’t stopped between the LGBTT community and opponents such as the Puerto Rico Pro-Family.


The original project, which featured more specific rights was diluted after strong opposition from Puerto Rico Pro-family group leaving the LGBTT community with a bittersweet victory. “It is a good step for the LGBTT people but we are not satisfied because the bill is not strong enough to eradicate discrimination,” said Roberto Rivera during the press conference..


Still LGBTT groups are influencing the political agenda in Puerto Rico. “The political parties are recognizing the importance of LGBTT people,” Rivera said. “During the past administration nothing positive existed for the LGBTT, now there are bills and measures.”


Earlier this year, senator María González submitted a bill that aims to teach a curriculum to promote gender equality at school. “It is a good initiative but we can’t depend only on it, school is only one of the places where the individual interacts, I would like to think this would happen on any other place the individual interacts,” said Delgado.


When compared to other Caribbean territories like Dominican Republic where politic figures are more conservative, panelists argued that Puerto Rico is more “gay-friendly” and there are more groups supporting the LGBTT movement in general. “Being gay in Jamaica is hell,” Said Professor Boglio.


One unidentified young man from the audience said he felt that bullying cases should be handled better, not only to promote an anti-bullying environment but also actually enforce it. This represents the same way of thinking of hundreds of other students in Puerto Rico and it was something school psychologist Bernadette Delgado was made aware of in the press conference.


Bullying is a reality not just in the United States of America where it has so much exposure, but in Puerto Rico also, albeit the bully profile is different. School psychologists agree that the focus should be put on prevention, education and intervention to be able to identify the bully and stop it.


On campus activities have also changed. Several years ago the UPRM LGBTT movement was non-existent. “LGBTT was not something we talked about, we knew who was gay or lesbian but we didn’t talk about it.” said Dr. Bernadette Delgado, also former UPRM student. “We were friends no matter what and they were suffering because they couldn’t show their preference,” she added.


Now in 2013 there is the Gay-Straight Alliance, whose goal is to educate about the gay community and promote human rights. This is the only LGBTT rights group in UPRM in 2013, but it’s not the first. The main difference of the GSA is that it incorporates the heterosexual people as well to promote gay rights.



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