June 2013

PAWs - Promoting Awareness and Wellness

Ashford University is proud to show you our PAWs. That is, our Promoting Awareness and Wellness initiative! Every month, we'll highlight different causes and opportunities that reflect the values of the University. You'll also learn ways that you can participate or be more involved.


The rainbow flag, developed by Gilbert Baker in 1978, has become a symbol associated with the
LGBT community.

June 2, 2000 kicked off an historic event for America. On that day, President Clinton stated, "Our nation is at last realizing that gays and lesbians must no longer be ‘strangers among friends,’ …rather, we must finally recognize these Americans for what they are: our colleagues and neighbors, daughters and sons, sisters and brothers, friends and partners.” Since this landmark speech, June has been recognized as a month to commemorate the historical struggles of, and to raise awareness to achieve equal justice and opportunity for, gay and lesbian people in our country (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month, 2012).

In 2011, President Obama expanded the official title of the month to include bisexual and transgender cultures as part of this celebration. In a speech given in 2012, the president opened the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender proclamation with this statement:

“From generation to generation, ordinary Americans have led a proud and inexorable march toward freedom, fairness, and full equality under the law – not just for some, but for all. Ours is a heritage forged by those who organized, agitated, and advocated for change; who wielded love stronger than hate and hope more powerful than insult or injury; who fought to build for themselves and their families a nation where no one is a second-class citizen, no one is denied basic rights, and all of us are free to live and love as we see fit.”

This statement recognizes both the need for this community to be heard and acknowledges a need to create allies. This month, we’re going to take a look at what it means to be an LGBT ally, and we will discuss some different ways that you can be a champion for understanding and equality. By learning more about this diverse community, we can foster positive change and promote well-being through compassion and acceptance (Presidential Proclamation, 2012).

What Is an Ally?

Individuals who are not a part of the LGBT community can show support by becoming an ally. An ally is someone who is not a part of the LGBT community directly, but shares the beliefs for which the community stands. The website glaad.org lists ten ways to be an ally and a friend:

  1. Be a listener.
  2. Be open-minded.
  3. Be willing to talk.
  4. Be inclusive and invite LGBT friends to hang out with your friends and family.
  5. Don't assume that all your friends and co-workers are straight. Someone close to you could be looking for support in their coming -out process. Not making assumptions will give them the space they need.
  6. Homophobic comments and jokes are harmful. Let your friends, family, and co-workers know that you find them offensive.
  7. Confront your own prejudices and homophobia, even if it is uncomfortable to do so.
  8. Defend your friends against LGBT discrimination.
  9. Believe that all people, regardless of gender identity and sexual orientation, should be treated with dignity and respect.
  10. If you see LGBT people being misrepresented in the media, contact glaad.org (10 Ways, n.d.).


InterPride is an organization that, in its own words, was created to “increase the capacity of our network of LGBTI [the “I” stands for intersex] Pride organizations around the world to raise awareness of cultural, social, and legal inequality, and to effect positive change through education, collaboration, advocacy, and outreach” (Mission and History, 2012). This organization holds annual conferences worldwide, offering a chance for individuals to come together, feel supported, and advocate for their needs as a community. The group began in Boston, MA in 1982 and has now grown to include members across the United States as well as Canada, Mexico, and the United Kingdom. Read more information on InterPride, including information about events (Mission and History, 2012).

Behind the Symbols

There is a lot that we can learn from and about the LGBT community. The culture consists of traditions, labels, flags, and many other symbols that encourage individuals to embrace their community. The following section gives some background information on some of these symbols.

The Lambda: The lower case Greek symbol was originally chosen by the Gay Activist Alliance in 1970. It has since been adopted by the gay community as means of identifying one another. Additional meanings and rumors about the lambda have been formed ranging from signifying unity to “the light of knowledge shining into the darkness of ignorance” (Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, & Transgender Symbols, 2004).

The Flags: There are many flags that are associated with the LGBT community, including the rainbow flag and AIDs flag. Each flag represents something different.

  • Rainbow flag: Developed by Gilbert Baker in 1978, this flag has become widely associated with the LGBT community. The colors each represent something specific: hot pink for -sexuality, red for life, orange for healing, yellow for the sun, green for nature, blue for art, indigo for harmony, and violet for spirit.
  • Victory Over AIDS flag: Since the AIDS epidemic began, the gay community has been severely impacted by this disease. Therefore, a group in San Francisco suggested that the rainbow flag be modified to include one additional stripe. This stripe is black and represents all of those who have died from AIDS.

    In addition to the flags and Lambda symbol, there are many other symbols that have been associated with the LGBT community. Triangles (pink, black, burgundy, and bisexual), gender symbols (including gay, lesbian, transgender, etc.), and ribbons (red, white, blue, etc.), are amongst other symbols used (Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, & Transgender Symbols, 2004).

    A Matter of Pride

    Whether you are participating in LGBT Month as a community member or as an ally, it is important to understand fully what you are celebrating. By learning more about the LGBT community, you can ensure that you are able to act as an educated ally. For more information about the LGBT community, be sure to visit glaad.org.

    Ashford University Faculty Spotlight - Lorna Wheeler, PhD
    Associate Dean of the College of Liberal Arts


    Dr. Lorna Wheeler is an Associate Dean in the College of Liberal Arts at Ashford University. She joined Ashford University in November 2012 after working both on traditional campuses and online in teaching and administration for more than ten years. Her online experience includes serving as Program Director for South University online and teaching at Kaplan University online. Additionally, she taught at Penn State University, Metro State University of Denver, and University of Colorado. Dr. Wheeler earned a PhD in Literature from the University of Colorado at Boulder, focusing on African American women writers of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. She also holds an MA and a BA, both in English, from the same institution. Publishing and presenting extensively in the fields of Queer Literature and Theory and Ethnic Studies, Dr. Wheeler recently presented on the work of Francis E.W. Harper, a pioneer among black women writers in the nineteenth century. In 2010, she presented and published a collaborative paper on dismantling the assumption of anonymity in the online college classroom. She plans to continue her study of how markers of race, sexuality, ethnicity, age, class, and physical ability/disability present themselves in the virtual educational terrain. Dr. Wheeler lives in Lafayette, CO with her partner, Lara, and their two children, Elena and Tobin. In her spare time, she enjoys the outdoors with her family and getting lost in the University of Denver library archives, where she can frequently be found poring over nineteenth century (and earlier) cookbooks (Lorna Raven Wheeler, n.d.).


    10 ways to be an ally & a friend. (n.d.). Retrieved on November 5, 2012 from http://www.glaad.org/resources/ally/2

    PRIDE-FEST 23 – Summer of Love (2013). Retrieved on May 28, 2013 from http://www.cospride.org/index.php/en/pride-fest

    Gay, lesbian, bisexual, & transgender symbols (2004). Retrieved on November 5, 2012 from http://www.lambda.org/symbols.htm

    Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month (2012). Retrieved on May 28, 2013 from http://www.loc.gov/law/help/commemorative-observations/pride.php

    Lorna Raven Wheeler, PhD – Associate Dean (n.d.). Retrieved on May 28, 2013 from http://www.ashford.edu/community/10761.htm

    Mission and history| Interpride (n.d.). Retrieved on November 5, 2012 from http://interpride.org/about/mission-history/

    Presidential proclamation: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month, 2012. (2012). Retrieved on November 5, 2012 from http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2012/06/01/presidential-proclamation-lesbian-gay-bisexual-and-transgender-pride-mon

    Presidential proclamation. (2009). Retrieved on November 5, 2012 from http://www.whitehouse.gov/the_press_office/Presidential-Proclamation-LGBT-Pride-Month