Chattanooga Teen Exposes the Struggles of Being Gay on Campus

By:Brittany Tonkin

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (UTC/ The Loop)- Entering a college classroom and facing your peers for the first time is a nerve racking experience for anyone, but imagine already being judged and stereotyped before you even take your seat. That is exactly what happens every time Will Scruggs, an 18 year-old freshman, enters a classroom; Will is openly gay.

Will Scruggs Studying

Will Scruggs grew up in the Chattanooga area and during his high school years hid a very large, defining part of himself- his sexuality. Entering college gave Will the chance to be true to himself and open up about his sexual orientation to his peers and family.

Not everyone was excited about Will’s “new-found” lifestyle and some of his former high school classmates have had no problem letting him know that. Scruggs said that he has had fellow college classmates with previous connections from high school stop talking to him on a regular basis, or completely ignore him all together after discovering he is gay.

Aside from encountering peers from his past, Will also faces the daily challenge of meeting new peers. Although Will feels that most people he meets will be polite and accepting, he said that it is still nerve racking meeting new people at school because he doesn’t know how they perceive him as well as the “gay community.”

Scruggs said, ” I have never experienced a teacher taking a personal prejudice against me being gay or  have that reflected on the grades I receive in their class, but I would definitely say that it does present a very strong challenge in assimilating in with your peers and your classmates. You don’t know who is accepting of you and who isn’t.”

Will ran into such an instance in his Anthropology class. He was selected to work in a group with fellow classmates to discuss religion. Throughout the discussion Will came to realize that the students in his group had very strong religious upbringings and still firmly held onto those beliefs.

Scruggs said that because the classmates in his group did not agree with his lifestyle they strongly excluded him from the group’s discussions and completely disregarded what his views on the topic of religion were.

Fortunately, not all students have treated Will the same way as the students in his Anthropology class. Lizzy Casey, a 20 year-old junior, said, “I have grown up in a very religous family and still attend church myself, but your lifestyle is your choice and dosen’t affect me or the way I treat someone.”

Stephanie Raulston and Will Scruggs Getting Ready for Class

Stephanie Raulston, a 20 year-old junior, said that being in classes and interacting with gay people doesn’t make her feel uncomfortable at all. She feels people don’t realize that discriminating against a gay person for their lifestyle is the same thing as being racist and should be treated as an equally sensitive topic.

Raulston said, “That’s your lifestyle, that’s who you are and there is no reason to discriminate against someone who is just oriented differently…It’s just like making a racist joke; it’s awkward if your offending someone.”

Will said he is thankful for people who choose to place their own biases aside or willingly accept him without thinking twice and only wishes everyone could do the same.

When asked if he had any advice for fellow gay students facing the same challenges, Scruggs said, “So long as teachers don’t dock your grades because of a personal opinion against homosexuality and it’s simply having problems with interacting with your peers and having them accept you sometimes in life you just kinda have to suck it up. You have to move on and you have to do your best to succeed academically.”

CLICK HERE to listen to Will Scruggs advice!

New Year’s Resolutions: How to Lose Weight without Joining a Gym

By Kyra Inglis

CHATTANOOGA (UTC/TheLoop) — Here we are, two weeks into the new year, and most of us have either gave up on our New Year’s Resolution, or we have settled comfortably into our new lifestyle that will help us succeed. The most common New Year’s Resolution is to lose weight. But with a recession going on, and the average gym price running in the upper 40’s and 50’s, who can afford to stick to that resolution? Or is there another way, people can get fit for free? The answer is yes, and here are five ways to do that.

  1. First, there is the work out. Most people either go to the gym or buy work out videos. But why buy work out videos when you can get wonderful workouts for free on YouTube? There are tons of workouts, from yoga and pilates, to boxing and basic toning. One to check out is the Urban Workout on  Underground Wellness, with Sean Croxton. Also remember that walking and running are free and all it takes is the first step.
  2. Second, there is a support level. is just one of many sites that can help you track your fitness level, what you eat, and show your progress. They offer an online journal that tracks your food and exercise, and a team builder so that if you and friends want to get into better shape, you can form a team.
  3. Third, is the nutrition portion. So many people have to start watching what they eat. Fast Food is convenient and easy, but it adds the pounds like crazy. So what’s the solution? Make better choices about what you put in your body. One good way of doing that is by eating more fruits and vegetables and cutting out the sodas.  Another way is preparing food yourself.  There are numerous sites that have excellent healthy recipes to get you started on the road to being healthier.  Or take a walk to your local library and check out some recipe books.
  4. Fourth, is the equipment necessary to workout with. This is one of the reasons that people go to a gym in the first place; so they can save money without dropping a bundle on a home gym equipment. Solution? Find a workout routine that is interesting to you and requires equipment that is not so fancy. Jumping rope is one of the easiest and cheapest ways to workout, because for around $5, there is a wide variety of exercises available. If you must have a treadmill or a stationary bike, check out your local Goodwill, where used equipment can be found for up to $50.  If you own a Nintendo Wii, there are a variety of workout games that will keep you dry and warm on those days that it’s too bad to be out.  Check out a used game store to get the bargains.
  5. Fifth, is discipline. This is the one that everyone has trouble with. There’s always a reason why a workout is not in your future. Either it’s too hot, to cold, or too rainy, or you’re just too tired. Whatever the excuse, it’s just that; an excuses. For UTC student Aaron Sutherland, he says that sticking with it is easy. “I just set goals for myself, whether it be strength gains or weight loss and I don’t stop until I meet those goals.  It helps to keep going over in your head the end result of all the hard work you have to do and how much it’ll be worth it”
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Workout machines ready and waiting

    Are you wanting to lose that weight for an upcoming vacation, or is it just about eating better and avoiding problems in the future? Either way it’s a win, and it’s a decision that you have to make for yourself.  Remember also to set realistic goals. Losing 10 pounds in two weeks is not realistic and not healthy, so why try it?

    Finally, reward yourself for your milestones. If there is an outfit you’ve had in mind at a local boutique or if it’s just treating yourself to a new CD, there should be an incentive (besides getting healthy) to keep yourself going. Little rewards also keep you from getting off track and quitting.