Highline gives a talk on DACA

By Avery Burks - Staff Reporter

Coming out can be difficult, those who have experienced it say.

Preceding National Coming Out Day on Oct. 11, three panellists from parents, families and friends of lesbians and gays shared their experiences with the coming out process during LGBTQIA Week at Highline.

PFLAG is a volunteer organization whose mission is to support families of LGBTQIA, educating themselves and others about the issues and challenges still facing people who are LGBTQIA.

They also work to change attitudes and create policies and laws that grant full equality for the LGBTQIA community.

PFLAG started in 1973 by a group of upset parents of LGBTQIA who lived seeing their loved ones suffer from hate crimes. PFLAG is in all 50 states and has more than over 400 chapters and 200,000+ members.

A group of about 100 people gathered in front of three women from PLAG Tacoma in the Mount Constance room in Building 8.

The panellists said they each faced challenges in coming out.

Shelly Cooper came out as a lesbian and lost her family. Having strong family values, Cooper said she was devastated by the experience.

Cooper credits PFLAG for aiding her disclosure.

"Without PFLAG I wouldn't be here," Cooper said she lost her family then gained one back with PFLAG. Cooper said she is sure about one thing.

"I'd throw myself in front of a bus for PFLAG," she said.

To anyone who is afraid of losing their family or support system to coming out, there is a message of hope, Cooper said."Another family is there to embrace you," she said.

Brenda Housen is the mother of a gay son. She joined PLAG in 2000 when her son came out when he was 18 years old.

Initially, when Housen received the news that her son being gay, she said she was

"worried for his safety."

At the time, Housen said that she had a vision for her son and it was that he would have two children and live in a house surrounded by a white picket yard with a loving wife.

The news of her son's announcement of who he was to love left her dream shattered.

"It wasn't who I thought my son was," she said.

Housen went to a PFLAG meeting, entering into it crying and in grief.

"I kept wondering why other people weren't crying like I was," she said.

Eventually, after time and education and hearing other stories, Housen came to a new belief about her son.

"He is going to live happily ever after," she said.

"It would just look a little different."

Cheryl Cristello describes herself as a "very privileged transgender older-than-dirt white woman." Cristello and her husband live in Gig Harbor where she runs a PFLAG Transgendered support group. She has been associated with PFLAG since 1995. Cristello has worked as an activist supporting the LGBTQIA community since 1989.

Cristello said she works to make the lives of people who are transgendered better and their transitions smoother.

PFLAG is also working to translate its information and material into Spanish to better serve the LatinX community.

"Silence is death. Use your voices," Cooper said.

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Suicide Stopped

An alert Highline staff member and local public safety officers helped stop a potential suicide on campus last week. While a staff member was working, he noticed a suspicious male wandering the East Lot around 6:25 a.m. May 25. The staff worker called Highline Public Safety who responded to find the individual running around with a rope in his hands, looking for a place to possibly hang himself. This prompted Public Safety to contact Des Moines Police and South King County Fire and Rescue. By the time first responders came to the scene, the distraught man climbed into a tree near Building 99, ready to use the rope on himself. First responders talked to the man, successfully convincing him to come down from the tree. After the turmoil settled the individual was transported to a nearby hospital for an evaluation. Sgt. George Curtis of Public Safety said this was the first time he has encountered someone attempting to endanger their own life on campus.

Staff member passes out

Public Safety said the actions of the staff member who reported the incident is an excellent example of how “see something, say something” could potentially save a life. A staff member was reported to have passed out in Building 4 at 8:10 a.m. The person was sitting in their chair when they lost consciousness, then fell out, hitting their head on the ground. Public Safety arrived but the staff member refused any medical treatment.

Late night fast food runs a no-no

A suspicious car was spotted on campus at 1:35 a.m. on May 28 by a Public Safety officer. The car was occupied by two students and parked between buildings 29 and 22. The two students had gone to Jack in the Box and decided to eat the fast food on campus. They were told by the officer to leave because campus was closed.

Learn all about Safe Zones

Allies of the LGBTQIA community along with faculty and staff will be hosting a Safe Zones training program, next month. Safe Zones is a program identifying individuals in the school community who are safe and supportive allies of LGTBQIA students and faculty. The Safe Zones training is put on by Highline’s Multicultural Affairs organization. The program is about learning more about the queer community and to build skills to use on the Highline campus and out in other communities. The LGBTQIA Taskforce has been working on creating a basic curriculum for the Safe Zones training that not only provides information that may seem basic or simple. Anyone is welcome to the Safe Zones training. The training will be June 2, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Writing Center, Building 26 room 319i.

Annual Vicom Portfolio Show is next week

Highline is hosting its annual portfolio show next week. Design students will show off their work and achievements on June 5 - 6. The show is in Building 8, Mt. Olympus room from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and 5 to 8 p.m.

Faculty awards nominations due

The annual vote for Highline’s Outstanding Faculty Awards has been extended June 5. The Highline College Foundation provides two $1,500 awards to be presented to Highline College’s Outstanding Faculty of the Year. Nominations can be made by any student, staff member, faculty member or administrator of Highline. A person may make only one nomination for each award. Further detainominations need to consist of written statements from both the nominator and then a second reference that gives specific emphasis to the nominee’s contribution to education at Highline. Nominations need to be submitted to the Selection Committee in the Office of Instruction, Mailstop 9-2, by 5 p.m. on June 5.

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