20, No. 10, Nov. 16, 2000
ALLY network provides safety
from discrimination, promotes inclusiveness
Forrest , News Bureau Staff Writer
(217) 333-1085; firstname.lastname@example.org
by Bill Wiegand
|A good 'label'
trangle-shaped pins and door placards imprinted with the word
"ALLY" identify faculty, staff and student members
of the network who are willing to provide support to people
dealing with concerns related to their sexual orientation.
Lydia Khuri, program coordinator in the Counseling Center,
is co-director of the program.
professional and personal goals is tough enough. People shouldnt
have to face additional hurdles because of their sexual orientation.
Thats the philosophy behind the campuss Ally Network, an
organization working toward ensuring that lesbian, gay, bisexual and
transgender faculty, staff and students find the UI campus welcoming
and inclusive a place where people can be open about their sexuality
and free from fear and discrimination.
Pink triangle-shaped pins and door placards imprinted with the word
"ALLY" identify faculty, staff and student members of the
network who are providing support for people dealing with concerns related
to their sexual orientation and to help build awareness of problems
such as homophobia and HIV/AIDS.
The network is co-sponsored by the Student Affairs Office for LGBT Concerns
and the Counseling Center. Network co-directors are Lydia Khuri, program
coordinator in the Counseling Center; Curt McKay, assistant dean in
the School of Library and Information Sciences; and Pat Morey, assistant
dean in the Office of Student Affairs. McKay and Morey have been part
of the network since it began in the spring of 1994. A similar program
at Ball State University served as the model for the UI program.
Initially begun as a small campaign in which staff members in Student
Affairs were challenged to demonstrate support of the LGBT community
by wearing Ally buttons, the program has expanded into a campuswide
network of faculty and staff members, and teaching, research and graduate
"We provide information, raise awareness, and engage in political
and social advocacy, and lead through personal example," Khuri
said. Morey estimates there are about 100 designated Allies around campus.
Membership is open to anyone. A three-hour training program educates
Allies about the history of gay America and familiarizes them with the
symbols and terminology used by the gay community. Skill-building exercises
such as role playing help Allies learn how to provide support to people
dealing with sexual orientation issues. Allies also learn about other
resources available to assist LGBT students, faculty and staff members.
Allies meet the first Friday of every month at noon at the Illini Union
to share experiences, offer support and learn more about the problems
and issues that confront LGBT people, their families and friends.
An Ally meeting last year featured a panel of local religious leaders
discussing their organizations positions on LGBT concerns. Another
program focused on families, exploring from a variety of perspectives
the issues and feelings confronting parents, children and spouses of
At meetings Allies also share their own experiences, discussing reactions
they may have gotten from displaying their Ally pins and door placards
or how theyve been affected by helping LGBT people who have sought
"When you have someone whos been threatened or beat up because
of his or her sexual orientation, thats a pretty heavy kind of
thing to have to deal with," McKay said. McKay said that displaying
his door triangle enables potential students to feel more comfortable
asking about the university and local communitys receptivity to
LGBT people and helps them better decide if this is an environment that
will support them in reaching their personal and professional goals.
Allies also are encouraged to become active in working for societal
change for example by being visible at the Coming Out Day rally
on campus. Another upcoming event Allies are being encouraged to support
is the Ninth Annual Midwest Bisexual, Lesbian Gay and Transgender Ally
College Conference to be held on campus Feb. 16-18, 2001. The conference
is expected to draw 1,500 to 2,000 LGBT students to the UI for entertainment
and educational workshops.
ALLY network Based in the Office of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender
Concerns Room 322-A Illini Union 244-8863.