Tuesday, August 23, 2016 Consortium of Higher Education LGBT Resource Professionals Visits UNL
On July 22 the Consortium of Higher Education LGBT Resource Professionals in partnership with the UNL LGBTQA+ Resource Center hosted a one-day national conference at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. More than one hundred attendees from as far as Massachusetts, California and Georgia joined together to discuss best practices for serving LGBTQ student populations.
The day started with a greeting from Vice Chancellor Franco as an ally and supporter. In opening remarks, he commented that years of groundwork have been laid, but in particular that substantial changes have been made in the last few years. This was further made evident by the May 13 “Dear Colleague” Letter that addresses the rights for transgender students. Substantial changes on the UNL campus have included allowing students to change their gender on student records, providing new options for names on student identification cards and offering housing accommodations.
Dr. Franco addressed that bad things like the Orlando shooting put a shadow on the good efforts taking place. Following the welcome, Meg Evans and Jacquis Watters, executive board members for the Consortium, led attendees in a moment of silence to recognize the perpetuating cycle of violence and the victims from Orlando and other injustices.
Throughout the day participants continued the conversations about intersectionality, student support, identity, safe spaces and social justice.
When introducing the concept of intersectionality, keynote speaker Gabe Javier shared his experience as a gay, Filipino, Catholic, sizable man and his inability to identify with the cover of Advocate magazine.
“It’s important for students to see models of possibility,” said Javier, who serves as the assistant dean of students, director of the LGBT Campus Center and interim director of the Multicultural Student Center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
This is the first time the Consortium held the institute and board meeting in the heartland. In addition to the national participants, a significant contingent of UNL advisors and staff members attended the conference.
Jacquis Watters, education chair for the Consortium, commented that the organization is very intentional in picking spaces that don’t get as much exposure to LGBT issues and diversity. She emphasized the organization’s desire to educate not only about LGBT issues but also to provide an environment for networking and addressing racial injustices.
Sponsors for the event included the UNL LBGTQA+ Resource Center, the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, the Nebraska Unions and the Lincoln Convention and Visitors Bureau.