UMKC celebrates Pride Month to bring education and understanding to campus

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- It's Pride Month at UMKC, a time dedicated to bringing education, understanding and advocacy to the entire campus.

The university also provides support and programs for diverse genders and sexualities all year, including an inclusive fraternity.

"I was always a little iffy on whether or not Greek life was for me. But once I joined in Delta Lambda Phi and got to know the people there, I realized it's a really good fit, and it's helping me become a better person," said Jared McClellan, president of the Delta Lambda Phi chapter at UMKC.

The chapter has been around for a few years and recently got it's charter from the national organization. It was started more than 30 years ago by a group of gay men for all men to provide inclusive Greek life opportunities.

Everyone is welcome to join.

"It's just a way to help make LGBT students who are in Greek life, as well as parents of LGBT students who are in Greek life, feel more comfortable," McClellan said.

The fraternity, which has less then a dozen members, volunteers in the community at places like the Ronald McDonald House, raises money for UMKC's food pantry, the RooPantry, and hosts a charity drag show once a semester.

"I want to make our presence make a difference to really show that DLP is here to stay, and we are here to make UMKC and the Kansas City area better," McClellan said.

Campus-wide, there are efforts to make the university an inclusive space with help from Kari Jo Freudigmann, the assistant director of LGBTQIA programs and services.

"One thing about higher education is there are a lot of highly gendered spaces," Freudigmann said.

There are three main pillars to Freudigmann's work: advocacy for inclusive school policies, support financial- and identity-wise for students, and education.

"I'm doing a couple of different safe space trainings on campus for faculty, staff and graduate students," Freudigmann said.

Freudigmann plays a big role in Pride Month and helped with the Pride Breakfast, where the community raised more than $200,000 for scholarships and programs. She said it's a way to show students that they belong.

"It's key that folks at least have a broad awareness of the community so they can be more affirming and be more validating of identities," Freudigmann said.

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