Sunday, February 15, 2009

LGBT + International

Among the many developments on my front, this one deserves some attention. The office of LGBT affairs at my University has started a new initiative entitled "LGBT + International." I am proud to call it yet another feather in the cap of the offices’ outreach program.

Stemming from both student and staff discussions last semester and before, the office of LGBT affairs and the International Center are now collaborating to address the needs of international LGBT and questioning students. Led by IC Advisor EJ, LSA Senior and Spectrum Intern, JF and Spectrum Student Advisory Board Member, K, the goal of this initiative is to develop new resources and improve both offices' ability to serve the unique needs of this segment of the student population.

On my part, in the summer of 2007, I had worked with a volunteer group to particularly suggest changes in the application process that would make it better suited to applicants with same-sex parents. Based on our suggestions, the graduate application at my University with regards to familial background is now gender-neutral. In a different capacity and in the academic year 2007-08, I had mentored an International student on ways to adjust to life at the University and his new cultural surrounds. This experience made me realize that a large majority of incoming International graduate students are often overwhelmed when confronted with diversity in all its shades, particularly around issues of sexual orientation and gender identity.

Building up on such eye-opening experiences, EJ and JF are now working together to coordinate the development of a new website, revamp international student orientation to include discussion of sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression, as well as coordinate a kind of staff training exchange. In fact, when the staff from the LGBT affairs and the International Center met to discuss ways in which the two could collaborate, I had identified the need to evaluate the experience of LGBT students coming from other cultures.

In the Director of LGBT Affairs, JS’ own words, "I'm very excited about this initiative; it's one of those things that should have been addressed a long time ago and I'm glad that everyone seems to be on the same page." I am sure with regular input from students, faculty and staff this initiative will go a long way in addressing the issue of sexuality across cultures, regions and borders (this story is via SC Newletter dated February 10, 2009).

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About This Blog

This blog is built around what I refer to as the socio-sexual debate, meaning the simultaneously coexisting conditions of human society and human sexuality in a constant state of inner conflict and pressing debate. To read more, click here.

Opinion Matters

"There is a way of discussing sexuality without using labels" (Mika* in an interview with Shana Naomi Krochmal, OUT, 2008-01-28).

*Mika is a London-based singer-songwriter.

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