Pride center aims to make EWU more welcoming to LGBTQ+ students


Dr. Nick Franco

By Jeremy Burnham, Reporter

EWU’s Pride Center will be providing “Welcoming Project Ally Training” on Jan. 24 from noon to 1:30 p.m. The training is open and free to everyone in the campus community.

The training is provided by the Pride Center Director Dr. Nick Franco. Franco, whose pronouns are they/them, has years of experience working on behalf of LGBTQ+ college students.

Franco earned their Ph.D. in leadership studies from the University of San Diego. They have been the director of the Pride Center for two years.

Franco hopes the training will help provide a more welcoming atmosphere for LGBTQ+ students on campus.

“The purpose of the training is to provide students, faculty and staff on campus with information and training on LGBTQ+ communities, and how to be better support systems for those folks on campus,” Franco said.

“Ally training is not about instilling political viewpoints. It’s not about questioning people’s religious beliefs. [People] will interact with queer people multiple times in their lives, especially here on campus.  We want to make sure that when that happens, people are as comfortable as possible, and able to communicate with them in a way that is inclusive and welcoming,” Franco said

Welcoming Project Ally Training has been provided at EWU since 2010. Open sessions, like the one being offered on Jan. 24, are provided once a quarter. In addition, groups on campus can arrange for a training session done just for their members.

EWU English lecturer Liz Rognes is a past recipient of the training, and is listed on the Pride Center’s webpage as an ally. In an email interview, Rognes told The Easterner that she found the training “extremely valuable” and that she would “highly recommend” it to the entire campus community.

“Even as someone who has close connections to gender studies and the LGBTQ+ community, I still have a lot to learn,” said Rognes. “The Ally Training has helped me to become more knowledgeable about current challenges our students face, more aware of changing and evolving language, more aware of my own privilege, and more thoughtful about how I address and include content that represents diverse identities into my classes.”

Franco is joined by a staff of student workers who assist with the training. Jordan McGee has helped in facilitating one session, and feels that the training is a valuable resource that will improve LGBTQ+ students’ experience at EWU.

“Ally training is good, from my perspective, because it helps make sure that faculty and staff are knowledgeable,” said McGee. “It helps when a student is introducing themselves to a professor with their pronouns. A professor who has gone through the training will understand them, and actually use those pronouns.”

The importance of respecting a student’s pronouns was a takeaway for Rognes.

“I have begun requesting names and pronouns on first-day background sheets,” said Rognes. “I have added my pronouns (she/her/her) to my email signature because I realize that it’s unfair to assume someone’s gender identity based on appearance and/or name.”

Before attending the training, community members are required to pass a short quiz on LGBTQ+ terminology. A terminology sheet is provided,  and the quiz can be repeated until passed. Franco opens the training by asking if there are any questions on the quiz, and by going over the most commonly missed questions.

“A common mistake on the quiz is people not knowing what the acronym, LGBTQ+, stands for,” said McGee. “Some of the incorrect answers use the right letters and seem right, but it’s easy to skim past and choose the wrong one.”

“Another missed question states that all LGBTQ+ identities should be used as adjectives, except one,” said Franco. The correct answer is lesbian. “You can call someone ‘a lesbian,” and that is grammatically correct, appropriate, and respectful. However, you would not want to call some ‘a transgender’ or ‘a gay’. Those words should be used as adjectives.”

Campus community members wanting to attend the training should register for it at the Pride Center’s website, The Pride Center offers assistance to all LGBTQ+ students. It is located in Showalter Hall 105, and is open weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.