Ellensburg, WA – Central Washington University students, faculty, and staff woke up on October 23 to learn of a “heinous act” of homophobic and politically partisan vandalism at the campus library. Although the markings were quickly erased, questions of campus safety for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender students remain.

“It is important to state, unequivocally, that the propagation of hate will not be tolerated at our university,” wrote CWU President Jim Wohlpart in a campus-wide email. “Central Washington University has zero tolerance for any act of hate or aggression against any member of our LGBTQIA+ community or any other member of our community. We are an inclusive and accepting university that is strongly committed to creating a safe and welcoming environment for all of our students. We will not tolerate any types of actions that reduce the humanity of others, make them feel unwelcome, or decrease their sense of safety and belonging.” Washington state Senate Bill 5227 was signed into law by Gov. Jay Inslee on May 12.

Equality through Queers and Allies (EQuAl), a student-run organization dedicated to providing a “safe space for all” at CWU, issued a statement on its Facebook page, which read that the library incident was just one of a “plethora of experiences” that “many of our members and members of the LGBTQ+ community as a whole” have confronted . . . On the CWU campus alone, our community witnessed our flag, which serves as our symbol of pride, peace, and unity, being mutilated during a time when we nationally celebrate our communal strength-only four months ago . . . It is these acts of hatred which constantly remind us that we must also reflect on our grief, grief for the children who are teased so terribly that they retract from school, grief for the individuals who are shunned from what they thought was supposed to be their home, and grief for the individuals who conclude that taking their own life is less painful than experiencing yet another incident of hatred. And we are all too familiar with something seemingly so trivial as pen markings in a library pushing one of our people to that decision.” (Seattle Gay News – Renee Raketty at https://www.sgn.org/story.php?ch=local&sc=&id=310130)

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