With so many different students at Temple, the Lesbian, Gays, Bi-sexual, Transgender and Questioning group Common Ground, is dedicated to creating a close-knit LGBT community.
The organization’s president Deanna Wozniak said the group works to educate students about important issues and host events where members can learn more about themselves in a supportive, open and confidential atmosphere. Common Ground reaches out to both the Philadelphia LGBT community and straight allies on campus.
Not all members are a part of the LGBT community. Half of the organization’s members are heterosexual.
Wozniak said students should not confuse Common Ground with Gay-Straight Alliance groups found in many high schools. “There’s a difference between a high school GSA and an on-campus LGBT outlet,” said Wozniak, a senior biology major. “In universities you really have to bring something to the table.”
What they bring to the table is peer counseling, an open-door policy for anyone with questions or problems, and a resource library on topics from coming out to transgender health.
Common Ground works to make the Temple community more tolerant about housing with gay students, Owl Card policies for students who have had sex changes, and homophobia.
Common Ground also works to educate the Temple students about important issues through its literature, including fliers on coming out and equal marriage rights and pamphlets such as “A Straight Guide to LGBT Americans.”
The largest event the group has participated in is the National Day of Silence on April 17. The day was created in memory of Lawrence King, an 8th grader from California who was shot and killed by a classmate because of his sexual orientation. On this day Wozniak said the LGBT community and its straight allies raise awareness about harassment of LGBT individuals in schools across America. This year the group plans to make sure every faculty member is aware of the National Day of Silence.
Temple Common Ground will be holding a meeting on Wednesday, September 17, at 5 p.m. in the Village, located in the 3rd floor of the Student Center Annex.
Common Ground gives Temple students “a place where they can learn about themselves and who the LGBT community is,” Wozniak said. “We never ask anyone’s orientation, but we do ask our members to be vocal about the causes that they advocate.”
Daniel Assaraf can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.