Letter to the Editor: LGBTQ Faculty and Staff

To Gay, Lesbian Or Whatever (GLOW) and to all Trans, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Queer/Questioning, Intersex, Asexual and Ally (TLGBQIAA), genderqueer, and Gender Non-Conforming (GNC) students on campus,

 

We are your LGBTQ faculty and staff at Lawrence University, and we are impressed.

We have known improvements have been needed for a long time; and while many of us have worked on many initiatives, we also know so many of your identities and needs are not recognized or respected on campus. We are sorry we have not pushed harder to make Lawrence a safer place for you.

We also know heterosexism disappoints you every time a guy gets asked about his girlfriend but never about his boyfriend and when you do not feel safe expressing affection for a same-gender partner. We know it can make you feel invisible and invalidated to have your gender gotten wrong over and over again, whether it is out of ignorance, lack of practice or intent. We know the legal system is often given as an excuse for deadnaming you, and we have not figured out a way to make sure you are safe, known as yourself, and not outed as trans* every time you are sent an email or show up on a class register.

We know it invalidates your identity to see that name that is not yours on an ID card with your own awesome image on it. We also know you should not have to be an exception to get these things to align.

We also know deciding what bathroom to use so you can be either out or safe but rarely both causes untold and unnecessary stress, if not violence or trauma.

All of us on the list want to renew our own promise to help you get these changes made however we can. You have and always have had our support, even if we cannot always fix things as fast or as well as we might prefer.

More than anything, we want to thank you for having such strong hearts, so much patience and so much concern for each other that you made these demands – not just for yourselves but for all current and future students who will benefit.

Finally, we want to reaffirm the time and sacrifice students of color have put into the list of demands currently posted on the Lawrence University Community Council Committee on Diversity Affairs’ Facebook page, and we acknowledge the racism they continue to experience. We also require, as you do, recognition that some queer students are queer students of color, and that intersectional identities − as well as multi- or biracial identities − are often made invisible or forgotten. Like you, we embrace an intersectional approach to all marginalized students on campus. We are committed to collectively addressing the real and diverse needs of our students and especially acknowledge more education is needed for our faculty and staff.

Thank you for raising the bar. All of us will be safer and happier because of your efforts.

 

In solidarity,

Erin Buenzli, director of wellness and recreation

Nicole Buenzli, associate director of admissions and director of international admissions

Rachel Crowl, web content and new media coordinator

Chuck Erickson, associate director of admissions

Alison Guenther-Pal, assistant professor of German

Andy Guenther-Pal, staff counselor – in residency

Helen Boyd Kramer, lecturer of gender and freshman studies

Amy Ongiri, Jill Beck director of film studies and associate professor of film studies

Ben Rinehart, associate professor of art

Steven Paul Spears, associate professor of music

Kim Tatro, head softball coach and associate director of athletics/senior woman administrator

Dakota Williams, administrative assistant for alumni and constituency engagement

Luke Wolcott, visiting assistant professor of mathematics

 

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