While strolling through the Square or on campus, students might see locals with safety pins attached to their shirts, and they’re much more than an accessory.
More than 400 hateful acts of intimidation and harassment have been committed since the Nov. 8 presidential election, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. Recognizing this, a considerable amount of Americans have been wearing safety pins to show their support for minorities.
Brandon Beck, former Texas State faculty member, began wearing a safety pin because he is transgender and has concerns for his community.
“I am concerned right now about safety for LGBTQIA, black, Muslim and disabled folks,” Beck said. “The safety pin is a sign that I’m someone who will stand with you.”
Travis Green’s suicide and the assault of a gay student resonated with Beck, and he said it is important for people to come together and advocate for each other. Beck aims to use his white privilege as a platform to support others.
“I’m going to stand up and speak for people who don’t have a voice to speak for themselves,” Beck said. “People are being bullied and victimized in our community, so we need to stand together and respect human diversity.”
Sam Brannon, former candidate for San Marcos Mayor, said he began wearing a safety pin to ensure support for minorities. Brannon began wearing the pin after he attended the Love Trumps Hate protest Nov. 12 at the Historic Courthouse.
“We have the ability to ensure a safe, free, prosperous hometown in San Marcos, if we’re willing to work together,” Brannon said. “Love trumps everything.”
The former mayoral candidate said creating discussion on issues surrounding the election, understanding each other’s concerns and showing support could make the community stronger.
Mariana Zamora, social work senior, said she began wearing a safety pin in the days following the presidential election. She founded the League of United Latin American Citizens at Texas State, a group which aims to advance education, political influence and civil rights for Latinos in America.
“I decided to wear a safety pin to let my friends, family, peers and clients know that they are loved and I will provide a safe space for them to come to me to process their fears, concerns, and pain,” Zamora said.
The safety pin movement has gained criticism because some people may wear the accessory, but do not act on it. Zamora said those who wear the pin should follow their statement with action—not just use it as an excuse to make a Facebook post.
“If people wear a safety pin, they should be willing to talk about injustices they see and stand up for people who might be the target of abuse,” Zamora said. “As the hype of the election results subside, I will continue to work on a daily basis to support groups of people who have been marginalized and their fight towards tolerance and equity.”
Zamora said it is important for students to support each other because many groups of people are processing the election and grieving recent tragedies.
“It’s important for us to fight for the things that we believe in and never allow anyone to silence us,” Zamora said. “Now, more than ever, young people should look for ways to get involved and make a difference in their community.”
The Allies of Texas State is an organization on campus that gives students the opportunity to make a pledge against homophobia and heterosexism. After attending four hours of training, Allies intend to make Texas State a more affirming place for LGBTQIA students.
Essentially, the Ally program under the Office of Student Diversity and Inclusion is the official safety pin movement at Texas State for the LGBTQIA community.
Allies of Texas State receive a placard, which represents their involvement in the campus-wide network to make the university a safe space for LGBTQIA students.
Quynh-Huong Nguyen, graduate student at Texas State, said it is important for Texas State to offer programs that advocate for minorities.
“I think it’s important there is a safe space for students who are a part of the queer community,” Nguyen said. “It’s a way for students to be empowered and challenge different ideals.”
Nguyen said the safety pin movement is beneficial to show solidarity, but those who wear the accessory should incorporate the meaning in their everyday lives.
“The idea of Allies training isn’t just to start a conversation or show a pin,” Nguyen said. “It’s a way to show how you can be an ally and interrupt a conversation where someone is using a homophobic slur or similar situations.”
Nguyen said the Allies program shows people in the queer community they are loved, supported and cared for.