Diversity Center hosts first LGBTQ Awareness Month on campus


Marina Swanson

Three CSU East Bay advocates for LGBTQ equality transition from serious statistics into a more light hearted open forum.

A 2006-2007 all-campus diversity survey shows that nearly 10 percent of California State University, East Bay faculty and staff members have experienced discrimination or harassment on campus.

The 2011-2012 updated survey suggests that 8 percent of undergraduate students who identify as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer have experienced the same derogatory treatment.

In past years, the CSUEB Diversity Center has celebrated the LGBTQ community with a weeklong event called Queerfest.  To promote more awareness the center is hosting its first Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer awareness month.

For the past few weeks the center has hosted panel discussions, open conversations and seminars. Tonight they will host the university’s first drag show featuring Bay Area drag artists.

Though there is currently no LGBTQ club active on campus, the events have been geared at addressing the best way to create a safe, supportive, and inclusive environment for the LGBTQ community.

The LGBTQ committee members include students that represent housing, student life and leadership, student health services, members of Queer Hour, staff of the office of diversity, and staff of the Diversity Center.

The awareness month began Jan. 13 and will end with Queer Hour outreach to high schools on Feb. 27.

The events included a number of discussions on transsexual identity, bisexual curiosity, gay marriage, and an open panel with Pioneer Heights staff about Gender Neutral Housing options. The workshops encouraged students to gain knowledge on the LGBTQ community and how to become an ally.

“We want the students to not only know more about the LGBTQ community,” multicultural event supervisor and LGBTQ awareness month coordinator, Riddhi Sood said. “But also know how to be an ally and also in helping them correct any misconception they have about the community.”

The LGBTQ students, supporters, and staff discussed trends and perspectives about creating an LGBTQ-inclusive community. The event included a panel and presented data about the LGBTQ community at CSUEB.  The panel members comprised of Dr. Jeff Seitz, professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Dr. Sarah Taylor, assistant professor of social work, and Residence Life Coordinator Finn Schneider.

After the panel, attendees deliberated about the best way to create a safe and supportive environment for the LGBTQ community.

Students discussed how to combat sayings such as “that’s gay,” while addressing the need for a change in the housing and restroom facilities to make this campus more LGBTQ friendly.

Administration support assistant, Angelica Garcia, noted that she was happy she came out to the event. “From the event what I took away was that the use of they/their instead of she/he can be presented differently to everyone,” Garcia says.

The sensitivity of pronouns usage in class and on campus was a main topic of discussion as many students, faculty, and staff tried to find the disconnect between what pronoun usage conveys to members and allies of the LGBTQ community.

The event, sponsored by the University Office of Diversity, led to some progressive ideas on creating a LGBTQ inclusive community. Panelist member Dr. Sarah Taylor, hopes to go forward from the event by spreading the word about the work her sociology students will be doing for the LGBTQ community for a class next quarter.

“I hope we got a sense of some of the information about the LGBTQ community and their need on campus,” Taylor says.

The Diversity Center will end this month with a drag show from 8:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. in the University Union. The event will incorporate music, dancing, and a drag show from paid drag artist. The talent list includes Esme Rodriguez, Dina Isis, Laundra Tyme, and special emcee BeBe Sweetbriar.