Thursday, April 14, 2011

Campus Queer Training

The center for diversity at my current university had a training for building safe zone's for the queer community on campus. It was open to all faculty and staff. I must say, it was one of the least diverse events I have ever gone to.

Since I am not in a lab science, I am considered a faculty at this university, even though I am a post doc. However, actually being a post doc, I am spared the endless boredom of faculty meetings and committees. I went to this out of my (possibly naive) desire to be the type of professor I wish I had (and in some cases, did have) as an undergrad.

I was the only "faculty" present. All but one of the rest were staff. The exception was a graduate student. I don't know how he got onto the list. As a corollary to "the rest were staff," (at least at this university) there were 2 males in the entire room. And since I'm tallying diversity, let me also add that there were only 2 non-white faces in the room. LGBT being a relatively invisible minority, I don't actually know how many were present at the training, at least one other.

The target audience for the training, I think, said a lot about the actual level of awareness about LGBT issues on campus. Lots of discussion about what LGBT is, and the difference between alternate sexuality, and alternate gender identity. And lots of discussion of labeling, and what different labels mean.

Maybe this is an indication that I spend too much time in my isolated slice of society, but I would have thought, that since I'm not in a small town in the middle of nowhere, that much of this discussion would be unnecessary. That with several states having same sex marriage, and more having civil unions, this need to explain the definition of lesbian is a relic of past decades. On the other hand, given my university's record on other issues of diversity, maybe it is, and maybe its still necessary here.

I'm not saying that the training was bad. It forced me to think about my coming out process, and the others that I have observed, and what the different needs of students may be. It also gave me a list (pitifully small) of places and resources for students, if ever the need arose. (This was one of the main goals of attending).

I guess my question is, how common is it for faculty to not attend voluntary diversity trainings such as this one. And is this a glimpse into my future for when I have a more permanent academic home, and become the token member of diversity committees?

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