ASU students and staff met at an event on Thursday to discuss LGBTQ issues and promote inclusion throughout the community.
The event, LGBTQA Experiences, put on by ASU LGBTQ Services, took place in the Mercado building on ASU’s Downtown campus. Participants listened to a discussion panel and talked about ways to make the campus, work areas and the entire community more welcoming for people of any sexual orientation.
LGBTQA stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning and Allies.
Rosalind Conerly, a coordinator in the Office of Institutional Inclusion, part of the Office of the President, said she wanted people to walk away from the event with “ideas of action” in mind.
“Hopefully, (attendees) will leave asking, ‘What can I do in the environment to address these issues?’ or ‘How can I make conditions better?’” Conerly said.
After listening to a panel of faculty and students associated with the LGBTQ community, the attendees broke into small groups of about six people. In the groups, they went over discussion questions and talked about their own personal experiences with LGBTQ issues.
Conerly said LGBTQA Experiences was geared toward “discussing from perspectives.”
“The point is to get students and faculty to talk about what they’ve seen on campus,” Conerly said. “We want them to talk about experiences, their ideas or things they’ve heard.”
University Dialogue and OUTspoken Dialogues, two series intended to facilitate campus discussion of issues, collaborated to present LGBTQA Experiences. According to Conerly, these kinds of events are open for any community member to come and share his or her perspective.
Anthony Eftimeo, a psychology senior, said combining students and staff at LGBTQ events benefits both parties involved.
“Sometimes people get absorbed into their own little subgroups,” Eftimeo said. “Faculty only deal with faculty issues and students only deal with student issues … it’s very beneficial to hear the other side for a change.”
Eftimeo also said he hopes the word spreads about events like this for the future so more students can get connected.
“(Students) should get out to meet others and let them know what ASU is doing to make the community more welcoming and inclusive,” Eftimeo said.
Roisin Doy, a journalism freshman, said she is taking an Introduction to LGBT Studies course and considers herself an “ally” to the LGBT community.
“One thing we’ve focused on (in class) is how there’s a break in communication between the LGBT community and the rest of society,” Doy said. “I’m excited to see how we can build that bridge between the LGBT community and everyone else who doesn’t understand.”
Doy also said attending events like LGBTQA Experiences is a great way for people of various sexual orientations to ask questions and get answers to clear up any confusion between communities.
“It’s not something you usually just walk into a room and talk about,” Doy added. “Doing things like this where you can just walk in and learn is really great.”
Davier Rodriguez, assistant community coordinator on the Downtown campus, said he hopes the university starts hosting more events in honor of the LGBT community.
“Of course (the LGBT community) needs support and help from everyone, but we need something to just celebrate them so that everyone can see how wonderful they are.”
Rodriguez said he still wants to see more efforts made for the sake of unity.
He added, “I challenge ASU faculty, staff and students of various backgrounds to continue to build the ASU community and the inclusion of people with diverse sex and gender identities.”
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