By DARREN PATTERSON
Kennesaw State University is opening doors to create a safe space for LGBT students and faculty as October held a month-long commemoration for LGBT history and observance of gay rights.
To celebrate LGBT History Month, KSU’s Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex and Queer Student Retention Service provided a month long exhibit, curated by Jessie Duvall, in the Zuckerman Museum of Art at KSU. The 2014 exhibit “Opening Doors, Outing LGBT History” used doors as a symbol to “out” LGBT history and raise awareness of activists, movements and global contributions made by the LGBT community for gay rights.
The “Opening Doors, Outing LGBT History” reception held at the beginning of the exhibit highlighted several organizations in LGBT history showing how past events have contributed heavily to the progression of gender equality worldwide. The event joined students, faculty and Atlanta LGBT community members together to strengthen KSU’s GLBTIQ community.
Georgia native and keynote speaker, Vandy Beth Glenn, told a heartfelt story of her personal journey as a transwoman. Today, she is an activist who speaks across the nation about gender equality and living courageously as an out member of the LGBT community.
“My passion comes from sharing my story and knowing it can make a difference and help someone,” said Glenn.
In October 2007, she was fired from her position at the Georgia General Assembly for announcing her decision to transition gender from male to female. After joining forces with Lambda Legal, she presented her case federally for the Northern District of Georgia and later for the Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit. In December 2011, both courts ruled violations of sex discrimination and ordered that she return back to work.
Kennesaw State student and Trevor Project ambassador, Krista Verdelotti, attended the event to support Glenn and the evolvement of the LGBT community at KSU. Many students like Verdelotti believe the university is becoming a more LGBT friendly community.
“KSU is a non-traditional campus and growing in diversity,” said Verdelotti. “I think it is growing in that direction.”
Kennesaw State University’s GLBTIQ Student Retention Center provides services like the Safe Space Initiative and Stonewall housing community, to make GLBTIQ members of KSU feel comfortable on campus. Currently, the center provides resources such as the GLTBIQ library and educational pamphlets that cover a variety of GLBTIQ topics.
“KSU is a safe space, but the surrounding community needs to be more accepting,” said Verdelotti.
Other programs during LGBT month included “The Coming Out Monologues” to celebrate National Coming Out Day held annually on Oct. 11, the anniversary of the 1987 March on Washington for Gay and Lesbian Rights. KSU’s department of Theater and Performance Studies hosted the production presenting the coming out process in the perspective of various members of the GLBTIQ community.
KSU’s GLBTIQ Student Retention Service in partner with the university also participates in the 2014 Atlanta Pride for the first time ever. Atlanta Pride is held annually the second weekend of October and this year Kennesaw State hosted a booth at the Atlanta Pride Marketplace showcasing KSU’s GLBTIQ programs and services.
The GLBTIQ Student Retention Service center’s mission is “to provide a safe, supportive and inclusive space where students of all gender identities, expressions, and sexual orientations can come to receive support, resources, and referrals in order to aid the realization of their full potential as students, individuals, leaders, community members, and advocates.”
More information about the resources, services, and programs offered can be found on the GLBTIQ Student Retention Service website or in the KSU Student Center, Room 164.