Merriam-Webster defines “ally” as “one that is associated with another as a helper;
a person or group that provides assistance and support in an ongoing effort, activity
or struggle.” In recent years, the term has been adopted specifically to a person
supporting a marginalized group.
This Pride Month, TCU News talks to Amanda Swartz, Psy.D., a licensed psychologist
in the TCU Counseling & Mental Health Center, about what it means to be an ally and
how to get involved in allyship at TCU.
What does it mean to be an “ally” to the LGBT community?
Quite simply put, an LGBTQIA+ ally is someone who supports, educates themselves about
and speaks out and advocates for LGBTQIA+ people and/or community.
Taking that a step further, what does it look like to be an ally at TCU?
Allies at TCU actively engage with LGBTQIA + students in an open and affirming way. All TCU students need to be
fully and authentically welcomed, as they are. Making sure classroom discussions,
interactions and assignments are inclusive and welcoming of LGBTQIA + people is essential. Students
focused on creating safety within friend groups and organizations allow LGBTQIA+ students
to authentically engage with their community and peer groups. Every member of the
TCU community bears the responsibility of being an ally.
What would you advise as a good first step?
One easy thing to consider is making your office, classroom or room be visibly accepting,
such as having a rainbow flag or TCU ally sticker displayed can create a visible space
of inclusivity and comfort. (TCU ally stickers are available through the Intercultural Center.) This communicates allyship and safety to members of the LGBTQIA+ community. Each
step toward inclusivity creates a more welcoming and accepting TCU.
Finally, what are specific ways that faculty, staff and students can get involved?
To go even deeper, consider the various programs and training opportunities on campus
throughout the year. For faculty and staff, consider the R.I.S.E. program or check with the Office of Diversity and Inclusion and Human Resources for other inclusive programming. Students can access Student Identity & Engagement for courses that include LGBTQIA+ topics and other resources, or check for Wellness Workshops addressing relevant topics. Finally, Counseling & Mental Health offers a Foundations training that provides specific knowledge and skills about how
to be an effective ally.