New sorority to include trans, genderqueer students

On Stands Now

Allie Cannington is one of those chronically busy people. Waiting for her salad at Freshii, a handful of friends pass by and give her a quick group hug. A professor approaches her and asks about the status of an assignment. Another friend calls her and arranges study plans. Spend a few minutes with Cannington and one wonders how she gets any homework done at all.

Despite her packed schedule, Cannington, a senior in the School of Public Affairs, remains one of the most positive people around. Her bright attitude and matching pink streak of hair reflect her fierce passion for creating diverse and inclusive spaces — a mission that has landed her internships at the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force in D.C. and the California Youth Leadership Forum for Students with Disabilities.

These days, Cannington is focusing her efforts on improving inclusion on AU’s campus. Putting the “social” back in “social justice,” Cannington has been instrumental in colonizing AU’s first multicultural/inclusive sorority, Gamma Rho Lambda, which may become an official chapter by the end of the semester.

“Bringing together a commitment to LGBTQ issues and multiculturalism unfortunately isn’t done enough, but GRL fosters that commitment to inclusivity and intersectionality,” Cannington said in an email.

The national organization, launched at Arizona State University in 2003, now boasts more than 13 official chapters and three colonies including AU, was the first all-inclusive sorority in the country, according to the GRL organization website. AU’s GRL colony has been actively reaching out to students who self-identify on a broad spectrum of identities, especially transwomen and genderqueer students, according to Cannington.

Those who identify as genderqueer may not identify as male or female and sometimes identify as multiple genders. Trans people express a gender identity or behavior that is different from those typically associated with their assigned sex at birth, according to Emmett Patterson, the co-community coordinator of the Trans* Advocacy Project and a sophomore in the College of Arts and Sciences.

Cannington hopes GRL can provide a positive space that provides the Greek experience to students who may have feared their unique identity would not be embraced fully in traditional organizations. Most Greek organizations have historically catered to white, heterosexual students, Cannington said.

It was exactly this mission that attracted GRL member Chloe Krueger, a sophomore in School of International Services.

“As someone who identifies as multicultural, conventional Greek culture felt lacking in its commitment to multiculturalism and celebrating differences,” Krueger said. “GRL’s commitment to LGBTQ issues really just reinforced my decision to rush.”

Cannington has been working closely with the GRL Nationals since last spring to ensure the group follow protocol and requirements to create a sustainable chapter at AU. Currently, GRL has 10 active members and is in the process of recruiting a new class this semester.

“As a new member educator, I’m confident that the foundations for GRL are going to continue to be built upon for years to come,” Krueger said. “All of our siblings exemplify their own unique personhood and identity, and I feel extremely thankful that we continue to have individuals who are committed to establishing our space as a permanent piece of AU.”

Cannington echoed Krueger, saying GRL is providing a necessary platform for students traditionally marginalized from mainstream Greek life.

“GRL defies those exclusionary notions and revolutionizes the concept of siblinghood and community,” Cannington said. “So I do think it is important. I think it is essential.”

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