For anyone who hasn’t heard, Kansas recently removed Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity as protected working populations. Meaning, employers will have the option to discriminate against individuals on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. It is absurd and inhumane to do so, however, it’s only one case in a stream of inhumane acts against LGBTQQIA (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Questioning, Intersex, Asexual) individuals. This news is accompanied by the increase in reporting of violence against transgender women and transwomen deaths across the nation. With that being said, there is a huge issue on our hands and my worry is that they aren’t adequately being addressed on college campuses.
I have the unique opportunity, in my graduate program, to engage with individuals who serve as Graduate Assistants as well as full-time staff members. What troubles me is the amount of people who don’t have the foundational knowledge about these groups – individuals who look at me dumbfounded when I make references to non-binary gender identities or in conversations about cisgender privilege. It is problematic if an individual has little knowledge regarding privilege and systems of oppression impacting people of color or women it is problematic. Do we not have the same regard for sexual orientation and gender identity?
I think it’s important to reflect on your personal role in perpetuating systems of oppression that allows for protection for LGBTQQIA individuals to be removed, whether it’s directly, indirectly, or by omission. I’d like to preface that I am not an expert on the knowledge and experience surrounding LGBTQQIA individuals. I’m in no way attempting to speak as a representative from the community, and I fully accept any criticism or support from LGBTQQIA individuals. I stand in solidarity with LGBTQQIA individuals.
Some guiding questions may include:
- How do you contribute to systems of oppression related to LGBTQQIA individuals in your life?
- Is your office/department actively having conversations about this community?
- Do you actively invalidate the experiences and personal opinion of this group based on your feelings as a privileged person?
- Are you actively aiming to be a supporter or do you attempt to lead the cause related to LGBTQQIA folks?
- How will you speak out against inhumane legislation that further perpetuates inequity?
- How are you actively supporting these students on your campus? (1 in 12 transwomen and 1 in 8 transwomen of color are victims of homicide).
Diversity isn’t a certificate you can post on your wall or an event that you can put onto your resume. Diversity and social justice are ways of living. It is accepting individuals from all backgrounds while allowing for them to freely express and live within their identity equitably. If you haven’t thought about these topics much at all, remember that you’re privileged. If we all hold equity as a personal and professional value, then we are all responsible to ensure that it happens.
> BONUS <
Podcast with Maryann Krieglstein on Social Justice & White Privilege