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The Daily Tar Heel

Students Embrace Newly Established Sexuality Alliance

The GLBT-Straight Alliance plans to hold meetings in the Pit and write letters

Intrigued by discussions that took place in her "Politics of Sexuality" class, Newton says she realized that there is a lack of support between the straight community and the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community at UNC.

To bridge this gap, she has established the GLBT-Straight Alliance, getting the group off the ground in less than a month.

Almost 100 students, classifying themselves as gay, straight, queer and undefined, crowded into Manning Hall on Wednesday night to throw around ideas and set the alliance's objectives.

Many of the students who showed up at the organizational meeting also are members of Professor Pamela Conover's political science class.

"No other organization dealt with straight allies," Newton said. "I asked people in the class that were in the LGBT community what they thought, and they thought we definitely needed it."

After talking with some leaders in the LGBT community on campus, Newton took the steps needed to get the alliance recognized as a student group and recruited senior Jon Harper as her co-chairman. Newton said the alliance will have two functions -- community building and activism.

At Wednesday's meeting, students laid out some short- and long-term goals to carry out these functions, including holding monthly meetings in the Pit, taking outings to LGBT-friendly businesses, hosting educational forums, writing letters to state representatives and promoting pro-gay politics.

Alliance leaders also said they hope to work with other LGBT groups and leaders on campus, an effort they say might alleviate what they perceive as dissatisfaction that has been felt among some members of the LGBT community toward its leadership.

"We're very supportive of all the different organizations," Newton said. "The more people involved, the better."

Representatives from Queer Network for Change, Carolina Alternative Meetings of Graduate and Professional Students, the Carolina LGBT Film Society and student government attended Wednesday's meeting.

"It's important to bring queer visibility and straight allies to the forefront," said Grace Holland, the LGBT administrative assistant.

Holland said that while some straight students are afraid of how they will be received at other LGBT groups' meetings, the alliance will provide a comfortable and welcoming environment.

Leaders said they will hold weekly meetings and aim to get other factions, such as minority students and the Greek community, involved in the alliance.

"We want to bring in everybody," Newton said. "It's not just a gay issue; it's a human rights issue."

The University Editor can be reached at udesk@unc.edu.

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