Members of the LGBT Resource center Cody Wallinga, George White, Laura Slee, and Oprah Jrenal answers various questions from young mipa journalists at MIPA’s annual issues seminar.
Members of the LGBT Resources Center at Michigan State University brings awareness to the various prominent social and political issues that individuals who identify with the LGBT community faces in today’s society.
The LGBT Resource Center has been addressing LGBT issues for a total of ten years and engaging in advocacy for the community, however there is still more work to be done.
“We can’t fix all the problems but trying to do a better job of getting everyone on the same page is important,” said Laura Slee.
The LGBT Resource Center believes that the primary way of addressing the issues that surround the community is to normalize LGBT relationships and help society become aware of these issues in all environments via faculty training and class curriculum changes that accommodate and include everyone.
“People must understand the struggles of the LGBT community and realize that they are real” White said.
LGBT Issues are even more prominent in educational environments, with often fear due to the backlash students may receive when becoming public about their about their sexual orientation or gender identity. Studies show that 85% of LGBT students face verbal harassment on campus.
A 2015 report from the GSLEN shows that 58% percent of students who identify as LGBT have felt unsafe at school because of their sexual orientation and 43% percent of students felt unsafe at school due to their gender identity.
“I feel like the fear students face expressing their gender identity and sexual orientation in school comes from this idea being considered not normal,” said Kyandal Farber, 17 year-old student journalist. “It’s expected for boys to like girls and vice versa but we as a society must understand that everyone is different and that’s normal”.
Farber belives that respecting differences, and creating supportive environments is vital to protect everyone even those who identify with the LGBT community and it starts in the classroom.
“Creating a safe environment for your students, where you can share gender identity pronouns learn the proper language for when addressing someone of the LGBT community, and provide proper training for faculty members in order to ensure a safe space for all students including those who identify as LGBT” said Oprah Jrenal, MSU assistant director of LGBT Resource Center.
“Teachers need to be allowed to have open relationships with their students and get to know them beyond a student perspective,’’ said White
The LGBT Resource Center is working to address all social and political LGBT Issues in educational environments and properly educate those who are unaware of such issues, but still understands that there is still more work to be done to ensure equality for all.
“An attack on any minority group is an attack on all minority groups,” said White. “Allies must understand that our liberation is together we need to support each other”.