Pride Club responds to anti-LGBTQ+ group on campus with demands and testimonials


A student who asked not to be identified gives their testimony at March 3’s Pride Club conference. The conference was organized as a response to recent on-campus demonstrations from the anti-LGBTQ+ group HOME. (Photo by Harbinger staff)

Pride Club held a response session after HOME, a known anti-LGBTQIA+ group and registered hate group, hosted a table and passed out fliers on campus late February this year. 

The group, known officially as “Heterosexuals Organized for a Moral Environment” or HOME for short, were stationed at a display table across from Subway during peak traffic hours. 

HOME, founded in Downers Grove, IL, has been recognized as an “Anti-LGBTQ Hate Group” by the Southern Poverty Law Center. According to the HOME website, the group was created to “use science, logic, and natural law to expose all the flaws in the arguments homosexuals (and bisexuals) use to try to justify homosexual activity,” and state that their intention is “to defend heterosexual sex and marriage, and to expose the liberal pro-homosexual bias of the dominant media.”

The response session was hosted by members of Harper College’s Pride Club on March 3, after the group felt that there was no response from college authorities and leadership. As previously reported by The Harbinger, HOME has made regular visits to community colleges around Illinois, including Harper College, for over a decade. Students who witnessed their displays on Feb. 27 and 28 were encouraged to speak on what they saw.

“The silence we experience from the Harper community tells us we do not matter to you,” Pride Club President Kei Smith said. 

The response session showcased images of information that was provided at HOME’s table, which contained unsourced and scientifically inaccurate claims about homosexuality. One poster claimed that “the average lifespan of a homosexual is shorter than normal (mostly due to AIDS).”

“Even like, a simple Google search [for the leading] causing death for queer individuals is suicide,” Harper student Spencer Cohen said.

Many at the response session also wondered why the group was permitted to have a table in of the most busiest spaces on the campus.

Since Avante is an especially high traffic area and one of the few places to get food, some students felt that they just couldn’t avoid HOME’s display.

An example of a sign HOME uses during their on-campus displays. (Photo courtesy of Pride Club)

“I went to a Big Ten school and you can go outside and there would be people standing outside giving speeches about different things, and that was normal,” one Pride Club member explained. “Having them be outside was a whole different ball game than having somebody be inside, that you have to walk past to get to your class.” 

Pride Club made it clear they are not just voicing their opinions: they want action taken immediately. 

“We request that the president and [the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion] release a press statement articulating support for it’s LGBTQ+ students, staff and faculty members,” Smith said. “We want an explanation. What was going on?” 

Dean of Students Mary Kay Harton spoke up at the session to clarify events.

According to Harton, HOME was assigned to host their display in a designated free speech zone in Building A as they have done in the past — this is an area with significantly less foot traffic than the Avante building. However, during their stay, HOME took it upon themselves to move to an open table in Avante. 

Under Harper policy, this is acceptable if a table is open and not reserved by another speaker or group.

Being a public institution, the college is obligated to honor the First Amendment rights of all guests. However, it left students wondering where the line should be drawn.

One student at the session who requested anonymity asked, “Would we have allowed this if the group was targeting a certain race or religion?”

Among the requests in Pride Club’s written agenda and call to action is to “bar hate groups from spreading misinformation about the LGBTQ+ community (or any diverse group of people).”

On behalf of Harper’s leadership, Director of Communications, Kimberly Pohl made this statement:

As a public higher education institution, we are not allowed to prohibit viewpoints based upon disagreements with those views being expressed.  We are obligated to uphold Constitutional First Amendment rights to freedom of expression even if we don’t agree with specific ideas or perspectives. However, while external organizations have the right to be on campus, the views expressed by those organizations do not represent the views of Harper College.

While we fulfill our obligation to uphold Constitutional rights, we will also honor our continued commitment and support of our diverse campus community through proactive and responsive allyship, programming, and resources. We appreciate our Pride Club members for raising their concerns and look forward to continuing this important dialogue with them and other members of our college community.