ECC Rainbow Brunch celebrates LGBTQ+ History Month

Desiree Oliveros, Staff Writer

On a cloudy, chilly day, an event focused on warmth and acceptance took place. Several students came out to the Rainbow Brunch hosted by SWANS (Students Who Are Not Silent) and QUEST (Queer Employee Support Team) to celebrate LGBTQ+ History Month while enjoying an assortment of food and drinks. 

Guest speaker Michael Ziri, a Director of Public Policy at Equality, IL, shared some eye-opening information about public policies regarding the LGBTQ+ community.

“We (Illinois) were one of the first states, of only five, to require that public schools include the contributions of LGBTQ people in history classes,” Ziri said to an audience that immediately responded with applause. 

Ziri went on to list policies passed here in Illinois that have transformed the way the public views the LGBTQ+ community, from laws now making Illinois the second state to decriminalize HIV to a transformational sexual education act that provides K-12 students with a new curriculum that is now inclusive of LGBTQ+ students and non-traditional families.

“It’s important that we all advocate and we all tell our stories because I have seen the power of folks from across the state telling their stories when it comes to talking to their state legislators, or members of the school board, or city council members,” Ziri said.

Being the director of public policy, Ziri spends a lot of time in Springfield and believes that it is his obligation to take the stories people share with him to the state capital to share with legislatures. According to Ziri, sharing these stories is what helps pass new and improved laws to support the LGBTQ+ community and create a world that is more accepting and understanding.

Paige Atkinson, a first-year student at ECC, found herself at the Rainbow Brunch because she felt it was for a good cause and a nice way to get involved with people who are inviting. She said that she went into the brunch with some anxiety because she did not know most people there but that she instantly felt safe and warm once the festivities began. According to Atkinson, a plus of coming to the Rainbow Brunch was that the food was delicious and there were fun goodies to take home.

Students and staff in attendance were given a glimpse into to what the SWANS and QUEST clubs have to offer.

From drag show events, a possible all-inclusive prom dance and an overall safe space for all to meet and open up, SWANS and QUEST provide students and staff alike a sense of community. 

ECC continues to become more inclusive by allowing students to update their preferred names, pronouns, and gender identity in their accessECC portal. The college also had over 200 on-campus staff and contacts who underwent Safe Zone Training, a program that educates and encourages acceptance of the LGBTQ+ community by promoting new perspectives on stereotypes, sharing challenges the LGBTQ+ community faces, and more.