Over the weekend, students and faculty from various Lehigh Valley campuses, convened at Muhlenberg University for an all-day LGBTQ+ Student Leadership Conference.
The event featured an array of workshops and discussions that rallied around this year’s theme of “Owning Our Stories; Creating Community.”
Through these workshops, students learned how to use their voice and their own personal experience to help build their communities.
The day started off with a presentation on intersectional queer activism by Keynote speaker Aneesah Smith, the director of LGBTQA (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer/ questioning, asexual/aromantic, allies and advocates) Services at West Chester University.
Her presentation fueled both students and faculty for the day by reminding them that, “In addition to being queer activists, we must become social justice activists too, fighting for equality for all.”
After Smith’s presentation, students found their way to various classrooms to attend the workshops they had previously chosen. There were five different workshops during each session, which covered topics such as trans student rights, QTPOC spaces, which stands for queer, trans, people of color, disability and LGBTQ+ justice, and more.
These workshops were led by various faculty members and student peer educators. They provided a safe space for students to share their experience, while connecting with other students that may have shared a similar experience. Students also learned valuable information to bring back to their community to help promote positive and inclusive growth.
As they day wound down, students and faculty reconvened in Muhlenberg’s Red Room, a student lounge, with a club-like atmosphere. They shared what they had learned throughout the day and how they planned to utilize this information in their community.
Before returning to their respective schools, students mingled over appetizers and continued to share their stories with each other.
For a lot of the students, this was the first time they had been in a room full of people that lived through similar experiences. One student even voiced that this was the first time they had ever met another non-binary person in the Lehigh Valley.
All in all, it was a day of growth, for both students and faculty alike. Through sharing their experiences, students were able to help other students realize they weren’t alone and help faculty realize there is still a lot of work to be done for LGBTQ+ students in the Lehigh Valley.
If you are an LGBTQ+ student looking to interact with like-minded people, SPECTRUM at Moravian College is throwing a Second Chance Dance the evening of April 8th. For more information, visit http://bit.ly/SecondChanceDance