By Jay Marks HMC ‘19
Queer students at the Claremont Colleges are lucky, in the sense that we have an abundance of resources available to us. However, the same level and quality of resources are not necessarily available to high schools in the area.
That is what inspired the Queer Resource Center (QRC) to start the initiative to provide those resources to high schools. The program is called Leadership and Engagement in Gender and Sexuality, or LEGS. Queer college students and allies sent in applications this fall to the head mentors, who then selected eight to be LEGS Mentors.
The LEGS mentors had their first training on Sunday, Nov. 8 at the QRC. The four-hour training consisted of educating the mentors about California laws as applicable to queer students, understanding how intersectionality affects identity, and how to connect with the queer high school students. The second training took place on Sunday, Nov. 15 at SCORE. The training was hosted by Torie Weiston, a mentoring and education scholar, and focused on qualities that a mentor should strive to have, as well as how to support mentees and guide them in the right direction.
The LEGS program includes initiating contact with local high schools’ administration and students. The program strives to provide resources for queer students who would otherwise be unable to access support and education about their identities. The LEGS Mentors strive to come from an intersectional point of view, understanding how oppression and privilege on various axes affect queer identity.
Although this is not directly affiliated with LEGS, one of the initiatives that its members will be focusing on besides connecting with queer students at local high schools is countering Sebastian Bryan. Bryan is a preacher who goes to Los Angles County high schools to preach that gay people are going to hell, etc. He stands on the sidewalk outside of the schools, making it illegal for school officials to get him to move or request police assistance in doing so, since technically he isn’t trespassing. On the days he is preaching, Bryan posts the location he will be preaching at on his Facebook page. In addition, he brings a camera with him so that he can film his talk.
The LEGS program wants to counter Bryan’s preachings. Head mentor John Contreras wants to go farther, not just showing up at a preaching to counter-protest, but to strike back before Sebastian can get in another preaching. The plan is to have a demonstration involving students of the school, encouraging them and others that being queer is okay.
The application period for this round of LEGS mentors is closed, but stay tuned for more information on the QRC website, http://colleges.claremont.edu/qrc.