A space for sharing stories, ideas, and concerns for the SUNY LGBTQ2AI community.

The Top 10 things We Need to Stop Doing in LGBTQ+ Programming

“1.       Being married to marriage

The recent Supreme Court decision is not the end of the marriage debate-but we centered so much of our resources and rhetoric around the issue we cannot blame some allies for thinking we have arrived at true equality. It’s time we refocus our efforts on keeping queer youth safe, giving LGBTQ+ people of all ages equitable and informed health care, and protecting us from discrimination in the workplace (amongst many other issues that threaten real equity).


2.       Being stuck in the “Safe Zone”

Safe Zone trainings are an important educational tool, but too often we rely on Safe Zone as the “be all and end all” of LGBTQ+ programming. Campuses beginning their journeys to inclusion have started Safe Zone programs before (or even instead of) gathering LGBTQ+ communities together to understand their pressing needs. Within Safe Zone trainings, many educators have worked hard to detach the perception that a single training can give anyone all the tools and knowledge they need to sustain LGBTQ+ allyship. Safe Zone’s should be seen as part of the journey, not an ally destination.

 3.       Rainbowing recklessly

The rainbow is an important symbol for LGBTQ+ communities, and can be powerful symbols at Pride and National Coming Out Day celebrations. However, not every program warrants a flag present on its advertising or at the event itself. Events that seek to bring in students who may not be comfortable with their identities, or those revolving around stigma or violence against trans communities are examples of events/posters that may be better off without the reckless rainbowing.

4.       Resting on respectability politics

Playing the assimilation game comes with the territory in higher education.  We teach our students how to engage in “proper” discourse, the finer points of writing and speech, and how to “dress for success” to land the post-college career.  LGBTQ+ folks are under extra scrutiny as an underrepresented group, and we often find ourselves trying to be the “good little gays.” In playing the assimilation game we often ignore the lived realities of our students and forget that some, among many other non-normative possibilities, could be kinky, in abusive relationships, or do sex work.  We must engage in sex positive ways centering healthy relationships and self-determination for our students.  And this means forgoing our “friendly neighborhood gay” mentality.

5.       Hiding in the ivory tower

Creating a queer/trans utopia at our institutions within hostile cities, small towns, and rural counties does not serve our LGBTQ+ students.  We must engage in meaningful ways with our community; sharing our immense resources like people power, intellectual expertise, research and analysis, and yes-even money.  This could look like students canvassing to inform voters or mentoring LGBTQ+ youth; or faculty researching for LGBTQ+ nonprofits; or simply opening our doors for the public to attend the speakers who come to our campuses.  Social justice and LGBTQ+ activism has strong roots in higher education and we must reconnect to that history in meaningful and mutually beneficial ways.”

Read More:Ted Lewis & Chris Purcell


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This entry was posted on July 14, 2015 by in LGBTQ MATTERS IN HIGHER EDUCATION and tagged , .
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