Coogs can do more for LGBT community
I was ecstatic to see an email flash across my phone informing me of UH-D’s upcoming conference in April with the fabulous theme of “Gender, Sex, and Power.” I immediately went to see if UH had one too.
I was a little deflated. With such a diverse campus and an amazing LGBT community, I was a little sad to see we haven’t had such a major event in a while. UH-D is hosting its seventh gender conference. The last major event of that nature UH had was in 2011, when a minority of extreme, right-wing activists caused enough trouble for the Texas Transgender Nondiscrimination Summit to be moved from Texas A&M to here.
UH hosted the first TTN summit in 2009, with wonderful results. It was because of the welcoming attitude and air of acceptance that UH was chosen to host the event again. Outsmart Magazine reported summit board member Maria C. Gonzalez as saying, “The University of Houston has held the summit on campus before without any problems, so we anticipate the environment will again be appropriate to everyone regardless of their gender expression or sexual orientation.”
It’s admirable to know that the UH student body has a reputation of acceptance. Women’s Resource Center Director Beverly McPhail described UH as “a very accepting campus” for the LGBT community, believing that the more attention the LGBT community gets, the better. She did admit there was a problem with low student turnout at some LGBT events, but attributes much of that to students’ busy schedules and commutes.
UH’s reputation for accepting diversity is something the student body should be proud of, but we haven’t brought back another TTN summit, a gender conference, or a major LGBT event in a while. UH-D is getting ready for its seventh conference, which covers issues like gay marriage and includes forms of expression such as creative writing pieces.
However, LGBT Resource Center Director Lorraine Schroeder reminded the Cougar community that many LGBT events are going on. The Creating Change Conference was held in Houston last week, with five UH students sponsored to go and for whom she said “it was very beneficial.” Aside from that conference, Cougar Ally training helps students, faculty, and staff to better understand the LGBT community and to “avoid some … prejudiced type of remarks that they might otherwise unconsciously say and make the students feel like they aren’t welcome here,” Schroeder said.
Every Monday, the LGBT Resource Center hosts a brown bag lunch where members and allies of the LGBT community can mingle and create friendships while discussing a range of topics. Schroeder commented that “graduation is highly linked to whether or not the students feel connected.” On Feb. 13, the documentary “Unbreakable Threads,” which concerns same-sex parenting, will be shown for free in the New UC Theater, and Mayor Annise Parker will be present. If that isn’t enough, the LGBT Resource Center will be handing out 1,000 shirts in April prior to April 11’s Day of Silence.
While the University seems to be extraordinarily busy in involving itself with the LGBT community, in the future, we should give even more than what we are giving now. Yet Schroeder pointed out that resources are limited and that — in a magical world where anything was possible — it would be wonderful to have a large event that would bring awareness to the LGBT community and benefit the people who know the least about it.
But in the real world, that’s not always possible. Maybe when we have more resources and more time to devote to such an event, we can call upon the student body to help out, but until then, we will be forced to grab something from the UC food court, enjoy “Unbreakable Threads” with friends and have a visit from the mayor.
Opinion columnist Rachel Lee is an English sophomore and may be reached at [email protected]