SAN DIEGO -- San Diego State University's Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Student Union - also known by the acronym LGBTSU - will change its name to the Queer Student Union beginning in the 2013-14 school year.
Founded in 1975 as the Gay Student Union, the organization has served as a social, support, and educational group for the LGBT community on the SDSU campus for nearly 40 years. Over the years, the student club added additional letters to its acronym to give visibility to other groups, such as lesbian, bisexual and transgender.
The group became LGBTSU in 1997 with the addition of the "T" to its acronym "LGBSU." The student organization added "transgender" to its name a few years before some other organizations in the community did.
Both The Center and San Diego Pride changed their names in 2002 to be inclusive of the transgender community. That year, the San Diego Lesbian and Gay Center became the San Diego LGBT Community Center, and San Diego Gay & Lesbian Pride became San Diego LGBT Pride.
Over the years, several generations of student leaders have debated changing LGBTSU's name to something with fewer letters and that was more representative of the full spectrum of people that make up the community.
LGBTSU student leaders organized "Queer Awareness Week" in April 2000 and generated quite the buzz on campus, especially in the student newspaper, "The Daily Aztec." In a staff editorial dated Monday, April 24, 2000, the paper wrote:
"The use of the name 'Queer Awareness Week' was, to say the least, quite queer to The Daily Aztec. Why would a group trying to spread tolerance use a term that stereotypes and dehumanizes homosexuals?
The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Student Union would have been better served using politically correct terms such as those, umm, I don't know ... found in their own group's name.
Why jeopardize the message by confusing those targeted? ... If 'Queer Awareness Week' is acceptable, then how about 'Faggot Awareness Week?'"
The editorial was accompanied by the results of a "The Daily Aztec" online poll which asked: "Is 'Queer Awareness Week,' this week's actual title, appropriate for the teaching of homosexual tolerance?"
Out of 54 total votes, 61% answered "Yes" and 39% said "No."
View the full editorial below (older editions of "The Daily Aztec" are only archived in PDF format):
The group continued to hold Queer Awareness Week activities for a few years following, before changing the title to better reflect the celebration.
In more recent years, use of the word "queer" has become more commonplace on university campuses, and many students and others reject the terms associated with "LGBT" and identify as "queer."
Student leaders report hearing little to no negative reaction to their planned name change.
LGBTSU members have been rolling out their group's new name at information tables held on campus this semester with a large banner that reads: "We're Here and next year ... We're Queer!"
More information about LGBTSU can be found on Facebook.