MxCC LGBTQ+ students have found safe space with like-minded individuals through many supportive programs and activities as they navigate through their collegiate experiences.
For more than a decade, the campus club SPEAK (Students Promoting Equality, Acceptance and Knowledge) has brought LGBTQ+ students together with each other, staff members and alumni. The primary purpose of the club is to provide support and assistance to those within the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and questioning community and allies who seek it.
“Middlesex Community College gives me a chance to stay connected with the queer community, to contribute to a student union that is both diverse and inclusive, and for that I am immensely grateful. SPEAK has broadened my horizons and allowed me to feel more comfortable being a student here at MxCC. Having queer role models such as the club advisors, allows me to put my trust in this college, live authentically, and have the peace of mind to excel in my academic endeavors.”
— Josh Rushworth, SPEAK president
SPEAK members have participated in events such as the Connecticut Health Information Management Association Conference, where they presented a panel about how LGBTQ+ individuals face difficulty when giving information related to health matters.
In 2019, SPEAK and college community members marched in the state’s first Pride parade, which took place in Middletown. Thousands attended this joyous occasion! Members of the group also appeared in Middletown Pride’s 2021 virtual parade on June 5.
In addition, the club regularly conducts ally trainings, drag events, dances, Karaoke nights, fundraisers as well as participates in the True Colors youth event at UConn each year.
“While I was never a member of SPEAK, I did always appreciate the ally trainings SPEAK would do. Especially when they created an atmosphere where it felt safe to ask any honest questions you have and not be judged on it.”
—Benjamin Palazzo, MxCC class of 2016
In 2018, MxCC hosted the Connecticut State College and University (CSCU) Pride Conference, an all-day forum with workshops, discussions, networking and entertainment. Stay tuned — another conference is in the works for next year.
Last year, the college formally established the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Council to reaffirm its commitment for maintaining a campus environment where all are valued, respected and included. And last fall, the college’s Center for Teaching, a vehicle to promote teaching excellence through the sharing of ideas, offered a professional development workshop about non-binary identities.
“MxCC gave me a place to feel like I wasn’t broken or that I needed to be fixed for who I was. It also expanded my worldview to the different orientations and identities, and made them more normalized to myself and others. Though SPEAK meant a lot to me, it also meant even more to my friends. They felt seen and allowed to love each other in a world that was just starting to understand their love.”
—Marina Capezzone, MxCC class of 2018
At MxCC, LGBTQ+ students experience a mix of community engagement and advocacy opportunities, challenging them to grow as both leaders and community members.