Southwest College plans to expand LGBTQIA+ program

Chula Vista, California (CNS) – After recently completing the second semester of a learning community dedicated to LGBTQIA+ students, Southwestern College announced Monday plans to expand the project and create a campus space for it.

The program CHEL, named after the rainbow word in Mayan and Aztec, will cater to students who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex or asexual.

According to the project organizer, CHEL is Southwestern University’s first learning community “specially targeting the unique experience of LGBTQIA+ students on campus”.

University officials said the goal is to “provide an inclusive space for registered students to provide professional courses, career planning and other services, as well as a space to discuss LGBTQIA+ issues and experiences with their peers.”

Organizers say that CHEL is also part of Southwestern College’s goal of expanding its mission to promote equity in and out of the classroom.

“I hope our CHEL students have confidence in our courses and are open to their identities,” said Kimi Rodriguez-McSwain, Southwestern University counselor and CHEL project coordinator.

McSwain added that she hopes the program will “lay a solid foundation for other LGBTQIA+ students on campus, and allow our students to be seen and heard on campus.”

Giana Alexa Vizcocho, a first-year student at Southwest University, said that becoming a member of CHEL “really helped me gain a sense of belonging at Southwest University.

Vizcocho added: “CHEL is very important to me, and the happiness of my classmates is also very important to me.”

CHEL will join other student learning communities, including Bayan, which supports Filipino Americans; the PUENTE project, for Mexican Americans and Latinos; and Umoja, for African Americans.

Copyright 2021, City News Service, Inc.

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