This article was originally published on 1870now.com.
The first thing you think of when you hear the term “Greek Life” probably isn’t “inclusivity.” In fact, “Greek Life” usually goes hand-in-hand with “who do you know here?”
However, one sorority on Ohio State’s campus created an unprecedented space for LGBTQ+-identifying students in the greek community. And as long as you come into the group with an open mind, it doesn’t matter who you know there.
Gamma Rho Lambda’s Psi chapter at Ohio State is Ohio’s first all-inclusive LGBTQ+ sorority, and the only national sorority that has membership open to anyone who identifies as female or was female-assigned at birth, setting it apart from other multicultural fraternities and sororities.
The national sorority was founded in 2003 at Temple University. At Ohio State, GRL started out as an interest group in 2015, and officially became a chapter on Dec. 22, 2017. The Ohio State chapter currently has 29 members, and 400 active and alumni members nationwide.
One of those members is Jenna Garrett, a sophomore who officially joined the sorority in April. She said members don’t have to identify as LGBTQ+ to be welcomed into the sorority. Rather, the most important thing is for members to come into the group with and open mind. The only group not allowed membership are cisgender men.
The GRL Psi chapter’s philanthropy is the Trevor Project, a 24-hour suicide hotline for LGBTQ+-identifying individuals. The group also works with the Kaleidoscope House in Columbus, which provides temporary housing for LGBTQ+ teens.
Jenna said the group has been a way for her to expand her horizons and explore her identity, something she didn’t get to do in the small town she was raised in.
“I never really got a lot of exposure to the LGBTQ+ community, but I always felt like I was different from everyone else,” she said. “I wanted to be surrounded by people where I could learn more and educate myself more about discovering who I am and what this community is and how I can use my privilege or my resources to further our causes and our beliefs.”
Just like any other sorority, GRL has a bid night and assigns “bigs” and “littles.” This is Jenna’s favorite memory with the group—it made her incredibly excited to see how members of the group grow from here.
Despite being a new chapter, the GRL Psi chapter has already had an impact on the national sorority by introducing the position of academic chair, which has been picked up by other chapters around the country.
“We are the first chapter of GRL that created the position of academic chair,” she said. “It’s really exciting that we started this thing and it spread to other chapters, because academics are really important.”
Pride is a big event for anyone in the LGBTQ+ community, but since it’s held in the summer, GRL’s Psi chapter won’t be able to do anything special for the event.
However, Jenna said that won’t stop her and many other members from celebrating.
“I’m planning on trying to get to a Pride parade at some point, it would be the first one I’ve ever been to,” she said. “I’m just going to try to live my life the best and go to Pride and see all of these happy, beautiful people.”