LGBT Open Forum hosts discussion for campus and community issues

Sahar Dika/MJ

By SAHAR DIKA, Arts and Entertainment Editor

An LGBT open forum was held on Thursday night in the University Center, and all students were welcome. Chair of pride, the LGBT advocacy group on UM-D campus, Anthony Wagner requested that those entering the LGBT safe space fill out placards with their name and personal pronoun preference.

After a quick introduction and a fun pet peeve icebreaker, the discussion was ready to roll. Dispersed amongst the room were Between the Lines newspapers that read, “Gay? You’re fired.” A room of almost thirty people was certainly not shy with their opinions about The Boy Scouts of America and their anti-gay policy.

“This is civil rights we’re talking about. Human rights,” said one student as the discussion veered towards being LGBT in the workforce. Many students agreed that being homosexual in the workplace was stressful. “If I tell them I’m gay, will they fire me?”

Discussion about LGBT issues in our community soon turned into issues on UM-D campus. Mainly, the fact that LGBT students have a lack of support from the university in general was the root of the problem. An example was given.

“If an LGBT student who wished to transition came to you and asked you how they would go about it, what would you say?” Many students said they would refer them to outside resources that would be able to help them.

“Our students desperately need exposure on this campus. We should be self-reliant,” said one student to the group. Spectrum, the office of LGBT affairs at the University of Michigan- Ann Arbor has been around since the 1970’s. They offer a wide variety of resources that include the Jim Toy Library, a professionally trained staff that offers support and connects students to resources, HIV testing where walk-ins are welcome, and much more.

The Ellen Bommarito LGBT Center at the University of Michigan-Flint campus also offers counseling and other sorts of help to LGBT students on campus. Many students at the open forum wondered why our mother and sister campuses have set up centers for inclusion while Dearborn remains just a step behind the rest. The lack of services on our campus left students feeling like they were being treated unequally and unfairly. There were only two LGBT events on campus this year that were not put on by the students.

The open forum gave LGBT students and allies of the LGBT community a chance to make some decisions about progress on campus. Students discussed advocacy on campus and in the community, identifying allies, having more LGBT events, demanding commitment from the administration, and reminding them of the danger of not having an LGBT center for inclusion on campus for UM-D students, staff and faculty.

Thestonewallproject.com is a website dedicated to promoting an LGBTQA Center on UM-D campus where supporters can go online and sign a petition to encourage a center for inclusion on our Dearborn campus.

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Photo courtesy of: http://www.uwyo.edu/

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