Bucks County Community College recently held a forum to discuss its historic support for gay rights —now more broadly defined as LGBTQ+ rights.
On May 9, 1968, Bucks students walked out of class over a canceled speaker set to advocate for fair treatment of homosexuals by law enforcement officers and the justice system. The action was historically significant for having predated the larger protests in Greenwich Village seeking the same goal.
The action was unearthed by a scholar of LGBTQ history, Max Stein, a professor at San Francisco State University.
Stein led the Newtown forum on the protest’s 54th anniversary.
“This is an important episode in pre-Stonewall LGBT history, as well as an important episode in the history of higher education and student activism,” Stein noted. “It shows us evidence of changing and conflicting attitudes about homosexuality in the 1960s, especially among young people.”
The importance of the student walkout resonates today.
“What’s particularly important to note about this event is the power of our students,” said Associate Provost Kelly Kelleway. “It was our student body who stood up and showed us this way forward. It was our student body who led us down the path to where we are today.”
Kelleway continued: “Today, this college exists to not only improve lives and opportunities for our students and community, but to expand minds in the truest sense of the word. And 54 years ago today, our students perhaps lit a spark to help us get there.”
Stein’s research is published as an online digital exhibit.