Wednesday, July 08, 2015

Rolling Through the Zones

Targeting Safety Zones at HBCU's

NBJC has launched an initiative to seek policy change within the U.S. Department of Education White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities HBCUs) to promote the development and delivery of culturally competent administrative, faculty, student and staff support services for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people. HBCU's in Arkansas are
Philander Smith College, Arkansas Baptist College and UAPB ( University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff).

With an inclusion mandate from the President and the US Department of Education, it could be an opportune time to move one of the largest collective populations of Black people in the country, with more than 300,000 students in the HBCU system, to an inclusive understanding of the LGBT community. There is no institutional mandate to recognize LGBT people, to create a safe space for learning, or foster an uplifting environment for the needs of the LGBT community on HBCU campuses.

Arkansas HBCU campuses today reflect the trend cited by NBJC and  apparently there isn't much interest in changing the situation, despite a 2011 organizing efforts to create a LGBT student led group at Philander Smith college. In scaling up that effort, Journalist and CNN reporter Don Lemon was a feature speaker in the Pass the Mike series and was secured as a consultant to assist with advising on developing a campus presence. However, interest, leadership vacuum and campus momentum languished, causing the group falling into disarray.

Although that effort was met with much enthusiasm, since then organizing a LGBT group on campus has been further hampered with marginal student interest, unclear policies and issues of identifying administrative sponsors to support such a group.

There has been numerous student engagement activities such as participation in campus health fairs, sorority events and empowerment sessions to increase both sexual and social justice awareness. Added to this interest about LGBT HBCU campus life, is an announcement from the Human Rights Campaign Fund seeking candidates for its newly minted LGBT HBCU Project Manager. The position will facilitate and provide tools to empower students to advocate for LGBT inclusion and equality on HBCU campuses.

Also the Manager would serve as a point person for the annual HBCU Leadership Summit which is the hallmark feature of the project. This meeting is designed to bring together LGBT students and faculty from select HBCU campuses poised to make concrete improvements--with support from HBCU Project staff on their respective campuses.

The HBCU Manager will build and maintain key relationships with HBCU staff, students and stakeholders, in an effort to advance equality on campuses. The HBCU Project manager will also have the primary role in planning and implementing our annul HBCU Leadership Summit, held at HRC every fall.  In addition, the HBCU Project manager will serve as a HRC spokesperson on HBCU campuses and other related venues across the country.

COP 24/7 will continue to monitor the progress or lack thereof of any movements taking place at local HBCU colleges on organizing efforts.

Create the future of female condoms

Our FDA advocacy continues to build! Thanks to 88 U.S. and global organizations that signed on to our comments last month, we demonstrated diverse support for the FDA to change its outdated classification of female condoms.

Today we are building on that momentum by kicking off the next phase of our campaign. We hope we can count on you being a part of it! 

Reclassification from a Class III to a Class II device will encourage innovators to create new female condoms for our future that we have yet to imagine, and open U.S. doors to products available in other countries. By urging the FDA to reclassify female condoms, we aim to create a future with more female condom options. With your help, we can shape a future where a variety of safe and effective female condoms are accessible and available to all.

Here’s how:

Sign our petition to the FDA urging Class II reclassification of female condoms.

Start a social media conversation about the future of female condoms on Facebook and Twitter.
Use these messages to spread the word and inspire action.

Collect petitions at community events and meetings. We will deliver the petitions to the FDA in September as part of our Global Female Condom Day advocacy.
Use the campaign guide for advocacy tips and sample canvassing scripts.
Read the NFCC’s letter to the FDA urging down-classification.

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