KIC and Pride! help students become certified allies of LGBT


Christopher Clevenger, freshman electronic media major and member of Delta Lambda Phi, speaks to a group of students about being an ally to fellow students in Centennial B on Wednesday. Photo by Coty Giannelli

Daniel Moore

Students filled a Centennial Court B conference room for drinks and “rainbow cupcakes” Wednesday for the first ever student Ally Training.

Organized by Kent Interhall Council and Pride! Kent, the 2-hour training session led students through a series of activities and information sessions. After the session, they were certified to become allies of the LGBT community.

Christopher Clevenger, freshman electronic media major, and Trae Ruscin, general studies major, co-hosted the event. Ruscin and Clevenger are brothers in Kent State’s LGBT-friendly social fraternity, Delta Lambda Phi.

“If somebody is having problems because someone is harassing them, you do something about it,” Ruscin said, of the ally’s responsibility. “If someone is calling someone a ‘fag,’ you say, ‘Hey, cut it out.’”

Clevenger said completing the ally process teaches students how to respond to situations in which a minority is being harassed.

“One of the things we’re going to train you for is how to respond to those situations and what to say and basically teach you to better Kent State and better yourselves,” Clevenger said.

Ruscin and Clevenger encouraged students to break out of their comfort zones and open their minds to different lifestyles, as hard as they might be to accept.

“Gay sex may seem gross to you,” Ruscin said. “But don’t say, ‘Ew, that’s so gross,’ because to some people it isn’t.”

The training first had students match LGBT terminology with its definition, some of which could be confusing, they said. Students missed several of the answers to the list of terms that included gay, heterosexism, bisexual and transgender.

Clevenger then led the group in an exercise called “Crossing the Line,” in which he asked them yes-or-no questions. If the students answered yes, they stepped forward, and the rest of the students applauded in support of their answer.

“Are you from Kent, Ohio?” Clevenger asked first.

He said the exercise would get significantly harder, with questions regarding whether students were victims or bullies, Christian or atheist and gay or straight.

Afterwards, students shared with the group how “Crossing the Line” made them feel.

“I have been made fun of for being as small as I am,” one student said. “My first day here at Kent in my dorm, some girl comes up and asks me, ‘Hey, are you, like, anorexic or bulimic or something?’”

Another student said he is non-verbally harassed for being too big.

“Walking down the Esplanade, I know I get looks,” he said. “And whether they’re looks of pity or looks of judgment, I don’t know. If you want to say something to me, just say it. Don’t assume anything.”

For the remainder of the training, students participated in an interactive question-and-answer session. They answered questions like, “How would you feel if one of your parents told you they were gay?”

After discussing what the phrase “That’s so gay” means to the LGBT community, the students were fully certified to be allies of the LGBT community.

Clevenger said the certified allies are encouraged to stand up for all those who are treated unfairly.

“It’s not about being an ally to LGBT students, it’s about being an ally to all students,” Clevenger said. “Students shouldn’t be bullied on the campus because they’re big or small. They shouldn’t be bullied because they’re a certain race or ethnicity or because of their sexual orientation or gender expression.”

Ruscin said he plans for more training sessions in the future, but there are no set dates.

Contact Daniel Moore at [email protected].