What is Equality Ride?
The Equality Ride has been instrumental in challenging and changing unjust policies and attitudes towards students and staff at distinctly Christian colleges and universities with onerous anti-LGBTQ policies since 2005. And in this process, we honor the many students and alumni who have boldly organized on campus and taken public leadership when it was risky.
For those of you who aren’t yet familiar with the Equality Ride, this ongoing project started in 2005 when there were fewer than 10 active and out LGBTQ student groups in the country. Since then, Soulforce has visited 101 schools and contributed to 14 school policy changes and the growth of over 30 student and alumni groups. In this time, we led 6 buses on cross-country tours to host workshops, classroom visits, meetings with administrators, and direct action where necessary at colleges, universities, and seminaries.
Then and now, we continue to focus on schools where campus policy or culture, largely driven by religion, is in opposition to LGBTQ people.
The Soulforce Equality Ride is now at an inflection point. As many student and alumni groups have sprung up, our role is naturally changing into a solidarity and co-worker position. The needs we hear students express are More resources and training! More networking with students at other schools! More time to put in place sustainable structures!
We hear you. Based on your feedback, we are debuting the Next Generation Equality Ride.
Shift #1: Introducing the Soulforce Crew
The Equality Ride is utilizing regional leadership teams called “Crews” comprised of students, alumni, and community activists to become the Riders themselves. As much as possible, we want the people who live, work and study in the conservative sectors we visit to be in charge of the programming. Through this alliance model, we can still reach 10 to 20 schools per year through localized team efforts that allow for participants to be as public or as “behind the scenes” as they want to be.
Below is a form to nominate your school for a visit, signify your desire to participate, or offer your wisdom to guide this project.
Shift #2: Introducing an Intersectional Approach
The content of our training and conversations on and off campus is growing to reflect the challenges that students and community members face that include homophobia, transphobia, racism and other forms of injustice. We are excited about broad cultural shifts grounded in the understanding that religious discrimination is a took of many oppression and links our issues and identities.
This approach will be reflected in the diversity of leadership, volunteers, staff, workshops, and aims of the Crews on and off campus. We recognize that the conversation about culture and policy on campus is related to off campus realities that impact many marginalized groups.
Shift #3: Introducing Longer Term Engagement
With your consultation, we will identify the schools, students, leaders, and locations of where this project will be active in the 2014-15 academic year. Participants in the Equality Ride work will all receive training, resources, partnership, and work retreats to prepare and implement their strategic plans on and off campus. Instead of working with a school for 3 or 5 days, we can now be present and active for months.
Soulforce will also respond to student requests by helping establish modest institutionalize of students groups, providing travel opportunities to volunteers to work with others in this movement, and supporting participants to join in off-campus events that are part of our other national campaigns.
Soulforce looks forward to hearing from you. If you have questions or are looking for support that doesn’t quite fall into this format, please contact Programs Director Esmé Rodriguez at firstname.lastname@example.org.