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Spectrum promotes awareness of sexual and gender diversity on campus

Beginning on Monday, March 31, and running through Friday, April 4, Spectrum at Loyola University Maryland hosted Sexual and Gender Diversity Awareness Week.

On Monday Spectrum held two events. The first was a workshop called “The Trans Experience” with Asher Kolieboi, activist and co-founder of the “Legalize Trans” campaign. During the workshop, Kolieboi spoke “extensively on his own experiences as a transman and the ways that he has embraced his spiritual and religious identity,” stated  Julia Tigani, co-president of Spectrum. Kolieboi also worked with the audience to brainstorm ways to turn the Loyola community into a more inclusive environment, especially regarding each and every student’s personal identity. Monday night Spectrum held their annual event “What Does it Mean to be an Ally?” The event was led by Dr. LoPresto of the psychology department and Tim Cherney of Student Life, and  the two discussed what it means to be an ally to the LGBTQIA community. On Wednesday Spectrum put on their formerly titled “Bring Gay in Non-Gay Places” panel, which was renamed the “Intersections Panel” for this year’s awareness week. Tigani stated that:

“We chose to change the title and focus because isolating the event to focus solely on being gay is not inclusive or representative of our community and their various sexual and gender identities.  Also, we do not think of Loyola as a ‘non-gay’ place.  This year, we chose to focus specifically on the way that as humans, we have many different identities, not just our sexual or gender ones.”

The panel was composed of members of the Loyola community including Professor Rick Lutjens, Brian Lojewski (Class of ‘14), Alex Snyder (‘14) and Jay Haynes (‘14). The panel spoke regarding their experiences identifying with both the LGBT community and other identities, and how those identities interact with each other. Tigani explained that “some of the panelists spoke to the ways their race, socio-economic status and family affected the formation of their sexual and/or gender identity.” On Thursday, Spectrum welcomed acclaimed poet Andrea Gibson, and two of her friends, also spoken word poets. Gibson performed several works that related to the manner in which her identities interact. Tigani detailed that “she [Gibson] invited her friend Denise Jolly to preform her poetry on Body Positivity, and Natalie E. preformed poetry on her own sexual experiences.” Sexual and Gender Diversity Awareness Week was concluded on Friday when Spectrum gave out free Rita’s Water Ices on the quad to celebrate such a wonderfully successful and educational week.

Throughout the week the Loyola Community (both faculty and students) were very involved. With the assistance of Student Development, especially Michelle Cheatem and Krysten Fertonrdo, the week was made possible. Tigani explained that, “both helped with the overall planning, marketing and funding for all the events.” Members of OUTLoyola helped a great deal as well, especially with brainstorming events for the week. Tigani was thrilled with the results, “The turn-out for all of our events exceeded all expectations, with many students from all different walks of life coming out to support.”

Raising awareness through Sexual and Gender Diversity Awareness Week, Spectrum is also working to raise awareness throughout the year—all Loyola community members are invited to continue the spread word as well. She claimed that the first step “is to become educated enough on that diversity, which can mean researching for yourself or attending Spectrum’s bi-weekly meetings.” She also discussed the many campus resources including the counseling center, where students have the ability to learn more. Spectrum is working to raise awareness and to support any members of the Loyola community. Spectrum’s “executive board views themselves as resources so that we can help others better understand their identities and how it fits on Loyola’s campus.”

Spectrum’s Sexual and Gender Diversity Awareness Week was a success and with campus resources, students can continue to support and promote sexual and gender diversity awareness on a daily basis.


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Spectrum promotes awareness of sexual and gender diversity on campus