Every October, Penn State Brandywine celebrates the history and accomplishments of the gender and sexually diverse community by participating in the observance of LGBT History Month. This year’s events were dedicated to educating students, faculty, staff and community members on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender history and rights, as well as highlighting LGBTQ+ experiences.
Events included a National Coming Out Day celebration, a performance by award-winning poet Patrick Roche, International Pronouns Day activities, a Wikipedia Edit-a-thon, Drag Queen Bingo and a Sensitive Interview Topics Panel, among others.
Throughout the month, students and staff worked together on outreach tabling with materials highlighting the 31 LGBT icons recognized this year by lgbthistorymonth.org. Students also helped create a visual timeline of LGBTQ+ milestones, ending this year with Billy Porter, who recently became the first openly gay black man to win the Emmy for best lead actor in a drama series (FX’s Pose).
The campus’ Coalition on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (CSOGI) — a group of faculty and staff who work together to support the campus’ LGBTQ+ community through outreach, resources, programming and training — also played an active role in the events, meeting to discuss and identify barriers to success for students who identify as LGBTQ+ and propose possible solutions.
The group hosted a roundtable discussion with members of the Rainbow Alliance to hear student perspectives on existing campus resources for the LGBTQ+ community and to identify areas for growth.
The CSOGI also coordinated International Pronouns Day, which “seeks to make respecting, sharing, and educating about personal pronouns commonplace,” according to pronounsday.org. As part of the day’s activities, Brandywine community members made name tags and buttons with their pronouns.
Associate Teaching Professor of Human Development and Family Studies and CSOGI member Laura Evans said pronouns are an important part of identity, communication and relationships.
“Using someone’s pronouns correctly validates and affirms who they are. And we know that mis-gendering someone causes harm,” said Evans. “The event exposed many in our campus community to the importance of pronouns and provided an opportunity to practice using pronouns in our everyday interactions.”
Another event, Drag Queen Bingo, offered an experience that was both educational and fun, with over 50 students in attendance.
“For many, it was their first time getting to interact with the art form of Drag,” said sophomore Ryan Peterson. “Seeing the community come together, open minded to something unfamiliar, really shows that our campus is supportive of all.”
Assistant Director of Student Engagement Bridget O’Donnell, who led the coordination of the campus’ LGBT History Month events, explained that while the community is celebrating gender and sexual diversity, it’s also important to recognize that members of the LGBTQ+ community have various intersecting identities and to consider issues like race, mental health and occupational status.
“My hope is that the programming provided not only educated our community on topics and issues related to gender and sexual diversity, but also demonstrated Brandywine’s support of the gender and sexual diverse community members and all of the ways they show up in the world,” said O’Donnell.
For more information about LGBTQ+ student resources, contact Bridget O’Donnell at [email protected].