Breanne Taylor is sitting on the Breezeway on Florida Atlantic University’s campus in Boca Raton.
The transitioning male to female, junior psychology major only needed two letters of recommendation for the breast implants that are turning heads, but she wants 20 signatures to start the university’s first LBT-inclusive sorority on campus. Right now, she has 10.
Gamma Rho Lambda, the national sorority that Taylor wants to bring to FAU, isn’t just for lesbians, bisexual, and transgender women, however.
“GRL has been referred to as the first national lesbian sorority, however they strive to be inclusive of all members, whether they identify as lesbian, bisexual, ally, transgender, questioning, straight, or with no label,” the sorority’s website states.
“It's important not only because it will be the first female progressive sorority on campus, but this will be the first Gamma Rho Lambda in the whole south east region of the U.S.,” Taylor says. The campus chapter list on GRL’s website confirms that Brie’s chapter wouldn’t just be the first in Florida, but the second in the southeastern region of the United States, joining Tulane University's chapter in New Orleans.
Jas Benitez, a third-year computer science major, was one of the first students to sign Taylor’s forms to join the developing FAU chapter of Gamma Rho Lambda.
“We are starting it because the students of FAU deserve to have an organization as diverse and innovative as GRL on campus,” Benitez told SFGN. “Students should join because they could help in the creation of a very special family on campus as well as add to the history of FAU by becoming apart of FAU's first LBT greek organization.”
Before GRL national recognizes these students as an official chapter in its network, they will be called a colony of GRL national. After students at Indiana University in Bloomington started this Twitter page to recruit members in September 2012, the colony had the 20 members it needed to become recognized as the Sigma Alpha Psi sorority on campus the following spring. Taylor expects FAU’s GRL chapter to grow at the same rate and be recognized as a sorority on campus by spring 2015.
The biggest struggle Taylor faces as she recruits members is convincing them to pay the $150 minimum in dues, so the chapter can afford incorporating into GRL national.
Gamma Rho Lambda National Sorority’s Vice President of Expansion Laura Page broke it down for Taylor like this:
“$100 per member goes to national dues, the remainder stays with your local org. Most groups set their dues a bit higher, usually $180-350. Again, this is lower than almost any other Greek org out there and helps subsidize high insurance costs, expansion, and our annual convention and leadership retreat.”
Page has already congratulated Taylor and her signees as an official interest group of GRL national. “As a founder, I have gone through a lot with this organization … It is one of the things I am most proud of doing in my life. I am here for anything you need. You will inevitably face challenges when founding a colony and I am here to help you every step of the way,” Page told Stewart in an email.
The first challenge is getting recognized by FAU officials. The university’s Director of Student Involvement, Shontae White, told SFGN they have not recognized them yet.
“As of now no formal ‘Statement of Intent to Organize’ has been filed by the organization—the first step in organizing a recognized student group.”
But he’s not saying they won’t be recognized eventually.
“Florida Atlantic University is committed to being one of the most culturally diverse institutions in the Florida State University System, and Student Involvement/ Fraternity and Sorority Affairs welcome all students with similar interest to form an organization on our campus,” White emailed.
FAU has not only stuck to this commitment, it’s been recognized for it.
In the 2013-2014 school year, US News and World Report ranked the Boca university as the most ethnically diverse public university in the state, beat only by two private schools: Nova South Eastern University and Barry University.
Gay, male, FAU students like junior physics major Patrick Augello, who couldn’t join FAU’s GRL sorority, are not affected by discrimination or exclusion on campus the same way lesbians, bisexuals, and transgender females might be, but he still supports bringing the chapter to campus.
“Having a progressive sorority or fraternity would help people in the LGBT community meet other people in the LGBT community,” Augello said. “It’s like a bond... could be awesome. That’s definitely a good idea.”
Taylor is still sitting at a table on the Breezeway, asking passersby to stop and sign. But for a student who already signed, like Jas Benitez, it’s clear why others should join.
“GRL will help any student who join become better individuals through the values learned in the organization as well as help them succeed in all aspects of life by giving them a strong support system,” Benitez said.
Are you an FAU student interested in being one of the campus Gamma Rho Lambda chapter’s first 20 members? Visit their Facebook page to stay up-to-date as it expands before officially launching next spring: https://www.facebook.com/grlfau