Nov. 20, 2022

Dear Students and Colleagues,

It is a cruel reality that in the same week of observing today’s Transgender Day of Remembrance, we awoke this morning to news of yet another mass shooting motivated by hate. Late last night, five people were murdered and 25 others were injured in Colorado Springs at Club Q, described as a popular safe haven for the LGBTQ community. It is heartbreaking, and I grieve for us all—particularly for the LGBTQ people of Colorado Springs, of CSUCI, and of our nation and world.

I am grateful for the supportive leadership of Colorado Governor Jared Polis and of President Biden, who said today, “Places that are supposed to be safe spaces of acceptance and celebration should never be turned into places of terror and violence. Yet it happens far too often. We must drive out the inequities that contribute to violence against LGBTQI+ people. We cannot and must not tolerate hate.”

Our support for LGBTQ youth, colleagues, friends, and family members is so critically important. What we say matters—and what we do matters more. Zelkind and Currey Cook urged both, writing, “As adults, what we must do is double down on our support for LGBTQ+ youth, demand change, increase available resources, resist oppression, educate ourselves, and step out of our comfort zone to fight mean-spirited and baseless attacks, because all young people have a right to dignity and happiness. If we do, all our communities large and small will be enriched by the thriving LGBTQ+ youth and young adults around us.”

I would expand that focus to include sexual minorities of every age.

Despite a recent surge of anti-LGBTQ legislation, this call to action is creating slow, but necessary change. It is heartening to see in the ACLU tracking page that the great majority of those bills died, failed to pass, or were withdrawn—a fact that affirms the reality that public support for LGBTQ rights has shifted dramatically in a positive direction over the past decade – but the Club Q tragedy clearly demonstrates how hard this work is and how far we have to go.

Among the many people, things, and opportunities that I am grateful for are the LGBTQ friends, students, and colleagues who enrich my life and our CSUCI community. I am with you in grief today, and in my resolve to fight with you for justice, tomorrow and always.

Richard Yao, Ph.D.

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