Last year, the leaders of the Gay-Straight Partnership on campus realized that the name of the club didn't fully represent all that the club does. While the name represented partnership between people with different sexualities, the name didn't include the variety of gender identities that people can have. The leaders decided it was time for a change.
In the fall of 2018, the club officially changed its name from the Gay-Straight Partnership to the Gender and Sexuality Partnership, which allowed them to keep the same acronym, GSP.
Some may have not noticed the change because the acronym stayed the same, but the club’s president, senior environmental ethics & policy major Megan MacInnes, said that the change was intentional.
“Everyone knows us as GSP, so we thought that would help us to minimize the confusion, ” MacInnes said.
Changing the name of the club is something Maclnnes and the other leaders were excited to do because it allowed the name to be more inclusive.
“The goal was to make sure that the language was more about everyone,” MacInnes said. “So, the entire LGBTQ+ community was included and it wasn’t just about that you are either gay or straight because that’s kind of a comparison that we don’t like. It paints us as we are all one identity, like all of us are gay, and not everyone is gay in the LGBTQ+ community.”
GSP’s co-advisor and Christie Hall Director Ezequiel Delgado-Cervantes said the new name helps to recognize that there is a spectrum within the LGBTQ+ community.
“When you change it to gender and sexuality, I think it’s so important,” Delgado-Cervantes said. “There are so many non-binary people, and this really allows them to know that this is not just for gay people, this is not just for straight people. It’s really for everyone who wants to be a part of this community, and I think it reflects a new understanding of that.”
He said that the name ‘Gender and Sexuality’ encompasses anyone and makes everyone feel welcome in the club. Before changing the name, the club’s leaders talked to the members about it, and everyone was happy and excited about the change.
“Unanimous, hundred percent, everyone was on board,” MacInnes said.
GSP was formed , after the administration denied student’s requests for it to be recognized as a club for 14 years. When trying to form the club, students were continuously told that supporting anything related to homosexuality would be a violation of the Catholic Church’s teaching and wouldn’t be allowed on campus.
“It took longer than it should have to start the club,” MacInnes said. “I think there have been strides made and it’s a lot easier on campus right now, but there are still strides to be made. There is still progress that we’d like to see with the universality.”
One of the main projects GSP has been working on for the past few years is getting gender-neutral restrooms in all UP’s major buildings and dorms. Currently on campus, there are only gender-neutral restrooms in St. Mary’s, in Buckley Center, in Lund Family Hall and a family bathroom in Beauchamp Recreation and Wellness Center.
According to Jim Ravelli, vice president of University Operations, Dundon-Berchtold Academic Hall will have two gender-neutral restrooms. One will be on the first floor and the other will be on the second floor. MacInnes is glad that the new academic building will have an all-user bathroom.
MacInnes said that another goal of GSP is to see all the UP students and professors be more mindful about asking people their preferred pronouns.
“When the professor initiates it, that lets the student know that they are entering a comfortable and safe environment,” MacInnes said.
Above all she wants GSP to be a support to LGBTQ+ students who may not have come out yet. Not every LGBTQ+ person on campus is in the GSP, and that’s why they work hard to make sure that they are helping everyone in UP.
“There are some people who don’t have time or people who are in the closet, who are afraid to come out,” MacInnes said. “Even if they are not part of the club, every action that GSP is taking is making them know that they can feel a little more comfortable and more safe on campus.”
GSP’s goal is to provide a welcoming environment for anyone who is interested in the LGBTQ+ community. It’s space to meet up, talk about the issues that are important, host events that bring not only educational awareness to the issues, but also provide an atmosphere for people to get to know each other.
“It’s a really relaxed space for everyone to join,” Delgado-Cervantes said. “It’s a really cool opportunity for people to get involved and that I am privileged to be a co-advisor for.”
GSP meets the first and the third Wednesday of every month from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Buckley Center Diversity Center. Maclnnes says that anyone is always welcome to join them.
“For me, it’s a really vibrant and welcoming community,” MacInnes said, “I am putting a lot of passion and energy to actually making sure that we are as a club making it better for the entire community on campus.”
Anush Hakobyan is a reporter for The Beacon. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.