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Heartland university celebrates 'National Coming Out Day'

Members of Truman State University's student organization "Prism" celebrate National Coming Out Day. (File photo)

Students at Truman State University's campus celebrated "National Coming Out Day" on Wednesday.

The day is meant to spread awareness of LGBT rights. According to the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the day was created in 1988 by more than 100 activists.

Members of Truman State University's student organization "Prism" are not only discovering themselves, but they are learning about the different identities of the LGBT community.

"It definitely is kind of confusing when you start getting into all these terms and you don't know what they mean. I definitely felt like that for a while," said Truman State student Leashanna Hughes.

Prism President Summer Fitz said she finds learning about how people identify themselves exciting.

"You get to meet all these people with all these identities. I learn something new everyday," Fitz said.

Though Kirksville is a rural area, it's Fitz's first time being around a large group of people who are a part of the same community.

"In my high school, we didn't really have a lot of people who were LGBT. There was probably about three of us," Fitz said.

Truman has the "Safe Zone" program which helps to educate its faculty and staff to increase knowledge of LGBTQ issues. According to University Counseling Services Assistant Director Joe Hamilton, the program began over 20 years ago and has trained hundreds of staff members. Rainbow colored triangles are given to staff to put on their doors and desks to let students know it's a safe zone.

"I was very intrigued to see how much people knew when they went to safe zone ... it was comforting," Fitz said.

According to the HRC, every one in two Americans know someone who identifies as gay or lesbian. One in ten Americans know someone who identifies as transgender.

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