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April 19, 2023

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LGBTQ Students and Environmental Justice



April 19, 2023
teampoint

Every year, Earth Day is a call to dedicate our time, resources, and energy to solving climate change and other environmental issues.

Point Foundation Scholars across the country are taking action to reduce environmental harm in their communities now and for the future. These environmental activists are investing in a sustainable and equitable planet. Their commitment to environmental justice involves research, community engagement, and political action. LGBTQ students are building a world where everyone has a healthy environment to live, learn, and work.

What is environmental justice?

According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, environmental justice is defined as the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people, regardless of race, color, national origin, or income, with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies.

Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) communities are more exposed to environmental harm due to systemic racism. Legacies of colonization such as zoning and disproportionate debt contribute to the way extreme climate change impacts communities of color and low economic standing in comparison to their white, affluent neighbors. Because of this, many Point Scholars center anti-racist actions and equal access in their ecological service work.

How are LGBTQ students impacting climate justice?

BiancaNunez-web-766x1024Flagship Scholar with a Wells Fargo Scholarship Bianca Nuñez (she/they) is studying aerospace engineering at the University of Texas - Rio Grande Valley. Her academic goals involve learning how systems in infrastructure and technology can benefit the general population.

"My academic goals are oriented around finding ways to use the skills I learn in engineering as a means for helping rural and agricultural communities optimize their operations," said Bianca

In 2023, Bianca organized the student club Alternative Transportation Alliance, which focuses on community involvement in transportation planning. They also led a public transit ride and organized an introduction to gardening workshop. Bianca plans to continue her impact by organizing more transit rides, mapping campus bike routes, and designing a rooftop rainwater harvest system with local partners.

Darid-Prom-DF94DEE1-344B-4D0A-99E4-7DD7B5F8EBE3-1024x1024

This semester, Flagship Scholar Darid (any pronouns) continued running the Environmental Justice and Community Resilience program they founded with a team of faculty and staff at Swarthmore College. As part of the program, Darid established the EcoPages initiative, which revolves around the exchange of books through the installation of ‘little free libraries’ placed on and around campus. The libraries act as a shared space where individuals can both contribute to and benefit from a growing repository of knowledge. They are designed with interactive elements, such as QR codes linking to information to learn more about sustainability and environmental justice.

"The libraries will act as a shared space where individuals can both contribute to and benefit from a growing repository of knowledge," Darid said.

How do I get involved in environmental activism?

Think locally. Creating a world where everyone has fair access to resources and healthy environments starts with making changes at home. 

Research environmentally-invested organizations to find out how you can volunteer. Potential volunteer opportunities include maintaining community gardens, running pay-what-you-can markets, farm equipment workshops, tree-planting events, and more.

Engage and connect with people from different communities. By bringing diverse voices together, we can create a fuller picture of what climate justice looks like.

LGBTQ students like Bianca and Darid are putting in the work to create a fair future for everyone this Earth Day and beyond! For more ways to join them in environmental activism, see the official Earth Day 2024 action toolkit.



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