Last Thursday, students and faculty gathered around a cozy atmosphere of the Hartley House to participate in Difficult Conversations. The Difficult Conversations series is hosted by faculty members, along with the Office of Equity and Inclusion (OEI). This particular conversation was hosted by Professor of Art Danny Juaragi, Associate Professor of Anthropology Ann M. Kakaliouras, and Assistant Director of the OEI Kayla Kosaki.
As the discussion began, people introduced themselves with their name, major, preferred pronouns, and sexuality, if they wished to do so. The objective of the discussion was to clarify and better understand what exactly gender identity and sexuality are and how we can educate others on them. Many people shared their experiences with coming out, their gender, and learning the terms for identites and sexuality.
After more people had shared their stories, a common trend among them explained why it is difficult to talk about gender and identity. Difficulties stemmed from where people had come from, availability of safe spaces, and, most importantly, the gap that society makes between gender and identity. Not to mention how the College community treats these difficult subjects, which also makes the conversation hard.
When the conversation ended, people talked about what they had gained from the discussion. They had more clarity as to the meanings of both gender identity and sexuality, how to be a supportive ally, and how to not be afraid of being one’s true self. Our culture is progressing rapidly, and it is our job to not only educate others about this topic, but to be able to create a safe space for conversation. “It is very important to show the broader campus community [that] we need to have more difficult dialogue series,” said Political Science Professor Sarah Angevine. “This is equally just as important to have a community in which we converse and come humbly and respectfully to each other.” In addition, the OEI also discussed how to file a report on discrimination or harassment incidents by filling out a Brosinte Response form and how to create a case for it.
If you want to learn more about being an ally for the LGBTQIA+ community, the OEI will be hosting an ally training called “How to be an Ally” on March 27 from 12:30-2:30 p.m. in the OEI. Also, if you are interested in more of these Difficult Conversations, stay tuned on Difficult Conversations on Religion hosted by Religious Studies Professor Rosemary Carbine and Assistant Director of LEAP Xiaopan Xue on March 13 in the Garret House from 4:30-5:30p.m.