On Friday, November 6th, LGBT@BC, an affinity group for faculty members who are passionate about promoting a more inclusive environment for LGBTQ students on campus, in conjunction with the LGBTQ Office of Student Outreach and Support, will offer a sensitivity training session for faculty members in order to acquaint educators at the institution with the mission and nature of the LGBTQ cause, in the context of the lives of students who identify themselves as gay, bisexual, transgender, lesbian and queer.
Nearly 5-7% of American youth identify as LGBT, which roughly equates to 2.7 million young adults — on many college campuses across the nation, LGBTQ students feel marginalized and ostracized as a result of the stigma associated with identifying themselves in ways other than the predominantly accepted sexual orientation. LGBT@BC strives to work in conjunction with other offices at the university to provide educational programs, resources and counseling with the goal of optimizing the quality of life for LGBTQ students at Boston College.
“Training sessions provide a forum for faculty members who want to better address and understand the needs of LGBTQ students on campus,” said Ms. Colleen Olphert, a Co-Chair of LGBT@BC and the Director for Membership and Member Services at the Center for Corporate Citizenship at the Carroll School of Management. “The goal is to make students who identify as LGBTQ feel comfortable on campus, and sensitivity training sessions are structured to promote this idea.”
In the past, sensitivity training session modules have provided an overview of LGBTQ disparities, demographics and terminology, in addition to providing key strategies for effectively helping LGBTQ students feel more comfortable and accepted in campus life. In effect, the modules strive to describe disparities in LGBTQ populations, elucidate relevant definitions and concepts and describe ways to overcome barriers to addressing the needs of LGBTQ students. To that end, sensitivity training modules hope to manage and mitigate the social stigma associated with minority sexualities and gender identities, while establishing a comprehensive support system for students who identify with the cause.
The topics to be addressed with specificity in the workshop on Friday are terminology, intersectionality, the socialization process, gender construction at BC, heteronormativity/heterosexism/homophobia, LGBTQ identity construction, macro aggression, the LGBTQ experience at BC and what can be done by faculty members to efficaciously address the aforementioned issues in general and at Boston College.
Ultimately, LGBTQ sensitivity training sessions hope to present diversity on campus in any capacity as an element to be celebrated and welcomed, not a reason for ostracism. “LGBT@BC aspires to create a safe and supportive professional environment for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community,” said Ms. Olphert. By teaching the best practices for the promotion of diversity, LGBT@BC seeks to perpetuate this goal.