Understanding LGBTQ+ students is one thing. Being an effective ally is another. Strategies for supporting our LGBTQ+ community were the focus of a productive discussion at the January Coffee Club led by Christine Mac and Denny Nguyen.
Christine and Denny, advisors for the NMC Pride student group, were invited to continue the conversation about LGBTQ+ issues that they launched at the October Conference. At the Coffee Club, they shared the results of a recent survey given to students on the Pride group mailing list. Here are some of the responses students gave when asked to recall a time when they felt supported.
- Walking into the art buildings makes me feel immediately at home.
- I’m very relieved to see pride flags and pins every so often.
- I feel supported when people acknowledge that other sexualities even exist.
While responses were mostly positive, respondents also recalled times when they felt uncomfortable, isolated, disrespected, and afraid. “I’ve had queer students tell me about the horrible comments they hear and face … working at NMC by students,” wrote one respondent. Students called for more LGBTQ+ specific events and more institutional emphasis on anti-discrimination policies.
Christine and Denny said they are looking at ways to build participation in the NMC Pride group. But they emphasized that there are plenty of things that faculty and staff can do everyday to support LGBTQ+ students on campus. They led the Coffee Club group through different scenarios and discussed how an ally would respond. Christine also sent along this handout from diversity educator Dr. Kathy Obear, “Additional Tools to Respond in Difficult Situations.”
Although one survey respondent praised NMC staff — “keep doing as y’all are” — we know we can do better! Our next Coffee Club is at 10 a.m. on Feb. 17 in the cozy Library Reading Room. We will discuss how to respond to Chat GPT. We’re pushing back our CIE book club discussion of The New Science of Learning to allow us to discuss this pressing robot problem!