The LGBTQ Community at Lorain County Community College has aimed to build a bridge of understanding through its LGBT 101 Workshop held on Nov. 17 in LC 114. The event provided the opportunity for the students, faculty, and staff of LCCC to increase their knowledge of the LGBT community through several topics, including proper use of related terms and concepts.
Kei Graves, a Student Success Coach at LCCC, along with several others helped to organize the workshop in an effort to aid and educate the campus about the LGBT community and make aware their desire to see the campus become a more inclusive environment.
Campus Pride, a nonprofit organization seeking to make college campus’ a safer place for LGBTQ students, conducted a survey in 2010, interviewing almost 6,000 LGBT students, faculty, and staff on college campus across the United States. According to the study, “33 percent of LGB and 38 percent of transgender people surveyed said they seriously considered leaving their institution due to the challenging climate and the lack of on-campus support.”
Graves, an alumni of LCCC, sees first hand how those statistics hurt the completion rate of the students he coaches.
“One thing I noticed was that we were still lagging a bit in that conversation and I feel like now we’ve opened up that can of worms and were going to get to where we need to be,” noted Graves.
Ryan Clopton-Zymler, the Community Relations Coordinator at the LGBT Center of Greater Cleveland was the speaker for the event.
Zymler saw this as an opportunity for students and staff to ask questions that they may be unable to in any other setting.
“I think about it in terms of conversations, because that’s one of the best ways the community learns about the LGBT community,” said Zymler.
Starting the conversation at the very core of LGBT. Zymler explains the importance of the inclusive LGBT acronym.
“When we say LGBT we’re talking about two facets of an individual’s identity so, lesbian, gay, and bisexual are a few ways a person might identify their sexual orientation, whereas the term transgender is a term that a person might use to recognize their gender identity,” illustrated Zymler.
The letter Q, sometimes found at the end of the LGBT acronym, can stand for questioning or queer depending on who’s being asked. Questioning is a term representing a person who is be figuring out their gender identity, sexual orientation, or how they wish to express their gender. Queer is an umbrella term sometimes used to refer to the LGBT community as a whole. While questioning is more of a straightforward explanation, recent history has complicated the term queer distorting its once harmless meaning.
“For a lot of us we were raised in environments where queer was used as a stigmatizing, derogatory or even violent word against people. But history buffs and literature folks recognize the term as a totally benign meaning,” said Zymler. Acknowledging that queer didn’t always carry a negative connotation, Zymler points out that in Shakespearean literature queer simply meant ‘different’ or ‘out of the norm’.
Regardless of its baggage, some people reclaim queer and choose to use it as a self identifier.
“Language is about self identity, meaning we can kind of conjure up what we all consider gay to mean, said Zymler. “But some people might not use that language to identify themselves people might use language like bisexual or queer or straight even regardless of whatever that definition might look like. So the real impact of language is allowing for folks to self identify,” he said.
While the workshop may have ended, Graves notes that more LGBTQ events will be planned for the spring.
For more information, contact Kei Graves at firstname.lastname@example.org.