Wednesday, Oct. 11 the Elizabethtown College Diversity Team hosted the second part of their “Blue Jays Talk” series, a panel on Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation at the Mosaic House.
The event featured three panelists: Dr. T. Evan Smith, associate professor of psychology, Dr. Andy Dunlap, associate professor of social work and Dr. Michael Long, associate professor of religious studies. Each faculty member offered their own insight on the complexities of gender identity and sexual orientation.
Smith, who teaches courses on both adolescence development and aging in the LGBTQ population, acknowledged that it is hard for young people who are exploring their own identity to avoid comparing themselves to others.
“The fluidity of sexuality can be hard,” Smith said.
He encourages people who are struggling with their sexuality to remember that everyone has their own life path and that it is okay to have uncertainties in one’s life.
Dunlap further commented on how sexuality as a defining part of one’s identity can seem daunting.
“There used to be a very structured view of the coming out process,” Dunlap said. But overtime, people have come to recognize that everyone has a unique experience and that the process of coming out is all about individuality.
Dunlap advised that people who are exploring their sexuality should seek out accurate information and try to connect with other people who are going through similar experiences.
The conversation transitioned into how to best approach social activism in terms of the LGBTQ community. Junior Kira Kuhar was particularly intrigued by the discussion on the various ways that allies could get involved.
“We talked about all of the ways a student can be an activist. Contrary to popular belief, students don’t have to participate in marches or protests; there are other forms of activism,” Kuhar said. “A student can write an article, spread awareness on social media, or even just participate in these types of open discussions.”
Long reminded students that it can be a lot of pressure to be a “social justice warrior,” especially if that type of activism doesn’t fit well with your personality.
Sometimes the most effective way for college students to create social change is by ushering in a counter-culture on campuses.
Oct. 11 also marked the 29th anniversary of the National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights. This demonstration ignited strong feelings of community and action, resulting in the formation of a number of LGBTQ organizations and advocacy groups.
Each year since 1988, the LGBTQ community commemorates the march with a national day to celebrate coming out. The annual event acknowledges the accomplishments of the LGBTQ movement and recognizes those who have had the courage and the strength to live openly as members of the LGBTQ community.
Etown’s LGBTQ community and its allies seek to carry on the legacy of LGBTQ activism each year by hosting events and programming to draw awareness and engagement towards National Coming Out Day.
Allies, one of the LGBTQ student groups on campus, encourages students, faculty and staff to celebrate and show their support for the community by drawing positive chalk messages on the sidewalks for National Coming Out Day.
Also, the Mosaic House will be hosting a second chance prom Oct. 12 from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. in the KAV. This event is open to everyone, regardless of gender identity, gender expression or sexual orientation.