Office of Equity hosts LBGTIA+ discussion

Talks best practices for serving students

Hillary Hetrick , @hillarymhetrick

Student Life and The Office of Equity and Inclusion hosted an All-In Equity event, “Promising Practices in Serving LGBTQIA+ Students” the afternoon of Friday, April 26. The workshop, held in SS4-412, was facilitated by Dr. Chicora Martin, Vice-President and the Dean of Students at Mills College.

The workshop began with a welcome from the Dean of Equity and Inclusion Sabrina Kwist.

“Good afternoon. I am Sabrina Kwist. I’m the Dean of Equity. I use she/her pronouns. And I’m super excited to be in this space,” said Kwist. “This is kind of one of the projects for our campus in regards to really enhancing and lifting up our conversation, our connection, our processes, our own reflections and also supporting LGBTQIA+ folks on our campus.”

The project is part of LMC’s efforts to initiate Equity and Inclusion for all students.

Kwist continued, “It’s important to have space to be in community. And I think that’s why we call this a conversation and community. I really want to say that this is really important to us.”

Referring to the flier that had circulated throughout campus, Kwist said, “This year, a group of students, faculty, and staff compiled the various resources that currently exist at LMC. We know that this is a good start, but we want to do more—be more awesome.”

Kwist introduced Dr. Martin as a good colleague and a friend. Both Kwist and Martin have a long history of both being a trailblazers in policy and advocacy, building out programs, community space, amazing camps even for youth. Kwist also thanked Martin for taking the time to come to LMC for the event.

Martin, as stated on the flier, uses they/them pronouns. They began with how they define homosexual. “We’re talking about folks who’s sexual orientation who do not have what is considered the sexual orientation that is the quote, unquote norm,” they said. “So there’s some norm around being heterosexual and that’s expectation.”

They explained gender identity as an idea that you are a man or a woman and that’s the norm. So when we talk about people who have diverse gender identities, we’re talking about anything that doesn’t fit into that unfortunate box.

Martin led a “Popcorn Activity” where they asked for people to share a positive and negative aspect of their sexual identity and how they would define their experience. A few students, in turn, gave their experiences on their sexual identities, and Martin gave advice.

They referred to society’s viewpoint of sexual orientation and gender identity, saying, “What you’re doing right now is everything you are. And what we really know and all the research shows us that sexual orientation and gender identity are fluid through our lifetime. And these are not static things that happen and that they are done.”

Martin explained the importance of equity and inclusion, pointing out that in the United States, “Sometimes we have very narrow ideas of what equity, inclusion and diversity are, and we also… treat civil rights like pie. Like there’s only eight slices and that’s all we have, and we’re going to run out.” Martin informed that, “It’s not pie, and we’re not going to run out of civil rights.”

In order to ensure Equity for all, according to Martin, we have to keep advocating for civil rights. This starts with “having spaces where LGBTQ plus folks could come together, be themselves [and] talk about what’s happening for them.”