“Are you a boy or a girl?”

“Are you a boy or a girl?” That question follows us the time before we are born to the end of our life. For some, the answer is simple, for others not so. On Thursday October 17, the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Society (GLASS) of Baruch College took up the issue in their “Redefine Gender” panel, as part of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender. Queer, Intersex and Allies (LGBTQIA) history month. I was privileged to be a part of his panel. Joining me on the panel were Professors Glenn Albright and Latoya Connor from the Psychology department, Dr. Ryan Androsiglio the Counseling Center and Melissa Dumont, former president of GLASS.

Here at Baruch I am the Head of Collection Management in the Library department where I make sure the library has all the resources you need to support for studying and research. I have also long been involved in gender and queer studies from a scholarly and activist point of view, having presented and published on making libraries transgender friendly both in terms of their policies and collections. I am also a member of the Trans Community Advisory Board at Callen-Lorde Community Health Center , a place that offers LGBTQ targeted health care, regardless of ability to pay. Their Transgender Health Care Protocols are widely used and referred to across the US.

I’ve been a member of the Dare to Engage group since 2011 and having been at Baruch since 1998, it was great to see the college actively working to make sure Baruch is a welcoming place for students of all sexual orientations and gender identities and to see the great strides we have made in this area.

I was very excited to see that GLASS had decided to dedicate one of their events to thinking about gender. There has been much talk in the media about gender and it seemed like a very timely topic. Remember hearing about Chaz Bono’s transition?  But there have always been people who we might call transgender today (Leslie Feinberg’s Transgender Warriors offers a few – it’s at HQ 77.9 .F45 1996 on the 4th floor in the library if you want to check it out!). With the media and the internet however, more transgender people are finding support and resources for their transition and more people are learning about transgender people.

Who or what gets to determine our gender? It seems to be innate, based on visible biological signs, yet for many of us, those markers do not correspond to our own innate sense of our own gender. This disconnect between the gender you are perceived to be from the gender you feel yourself to be is an incredibly painful place to be; transgender people seek to align the two. They might do this by taking hormones, having surgeries, a combination of these, or neither. Each journey is individual. The term transgender is often understood as an umbrella term that refers to anyone who is living differently from the gender given to them at birth.

Unfortunately, because we are still mired in a rigid, binary gender viewpoint, this journey can often be met with discrimination, harassment and too often even death. Think of all the places where your gender comes into play: bathrooms, doctors’ offices, jobs, your passport, your driver’s license, when you apply for housing, homeless shelters, prisons,…the list is long. Any time your body, your legal documents and how you present your gender don’t match is a place where you might be denied services, or more. Transgender  people have been denied care by paramedics and doctors and left to die, they have been turned away from shelters, they have been harassed and beaten in bathrooms, they have been fired from their jobs.

Colleges and universities have often taken the lead in offering safety to their students. Many schools, including CUNY, have issued nondiscrimination policies that include Gender Identity/Expression. While some states also have such nondiscrimination policies, New York is not one of them. New York City however does prohibit such discrimination in their NYC Human Rights Law. While laws are important, support from friends is also important and I was glad the panel and audience talked about that. It was inspiring to see audience member volunteering times when they have supported their friends and their wish to continue to do so.

This was an important panel within LGBTQIA History Month. The current LGBT movement often seems to focus on issues that affect predominantly lesbian and gay people and ignore the rest. Not only was there a significant trans presence and leadership at the Stonewall Riots in 1969 that sparked the current LGBT movement but even more importantly, the issues that affect trans people also affect lesbian and gay people, especially those around gender non-conforming gender expression and behavior. It was exciting to see so many in the audience interested in engaging with these ideas so enthusiastically.

Student Spotlight – October 2013

For this week’s post, I decided to interview a very close friend of mine who served on the LGBT History Month Committee last year.

 

JMB – Hi Krystal! Please state your name and tell us about your Baruch profile on campus:

 

KC- Hi everyone. My name is Krystal Campbell and I am member of the Class of 2014 and plan to graduate at the end of next semester. I am very excited to be a senior. My major is Corporate Communications and my minors are Psychology and Sociology. I am a former Club President and LGBT History Month committee member.

 

JMB- What do you think about this year’s LGBT History Month theme being: REDEFINE?

 

KC- I think this year’s theme, “Redefine” sounds perfect for LGBT History month at Baruch College. This theme should encourage committee members to think outside the box and really push their limits with regard to the reasoning of their programming goals and boosting LGBT awareness on campus. History month programming should always serve to establish further dialogue and continue to build bridges across the community.

 

JMCB – How has your experience been at the college thus far from a student’s perspective?

 

KC- From the perspective of a full-time student, my college experience at Baruch has been fulfilling and satisfying. I have had the chance to get my feet wet in different aspects that Baruch has to offer. From being on the cheer-leader team, to being a secretary of a club and later becoming president of that same club, attending Leadership Weekend back in the Fall 2011 semester (which is how I met Jordan!) to holding positions on cultural committees and as well as an active member of various student organizations; I feel that I have learned a great deal from participating in student life at Baruch College.

JMB- Tell me 2 of your most favorite things about being a part of Student Life at Baruch College.

KC- One of my most favorite things about being a part of Baruch’s student life was being able to coordinate and host programs and witness students, faculty and staff attend and socialize. I have definitely benefited networking-wise and have seen countless others do the same. . If I wasn’t involved, I doubt I would have interacted with anyone besides my other students and some professors.

JMB- Why in your own opinion, is it important to celebrate LGBT History month at Baruch College?

 

KC- It is important to celebrate LGBT month at Baruch College because I believe that this is one of the most underrepresented groups at Baruch College. There is a stigma present in the school surrounding the LGBT organizations on campus. There is a divide between their clubs and any other clubs, and I believe that LGBT month-related events are the least supported. Usually programming for LGBT month events only attract that community of people, instead of a more widespread and diverse crowd. It is significant that we continue to administer LGBT programming to educate, make aware, and foster a sense of unity in everyone on campus.

Krystal & Jordan

JMB- Thanks so much, Krystal for taking some time to interview with me! Good luck with your senior year and hope to celebrate your Commencement 2014 with you next year! =}

Jordan

Why We Engage – Reason Behind SafeZone

A few weeks ago as part of Resident Assistant Training 2013, two Student Affairs professionals of Baruch presented on Safe Zone with regards to Baruch College’s atmosphere for individuals who identify as LGBTQIA.

During the session, participants were asked to move along a scale of:  agree, disagree or neutral/unsure based on statements about LGBTQIA individuals on campus and how we felt they feel. This activity allowed us to demonstrate how much we knew or did not know, about this particular group of the Baruch community. Eventually several valid points were raised about why Safe Zone exists on our campus. A few of the participants suggested that the fact that we have such workshops and such a task force, proves that Baruch College may not be a safe or nurturing environment for LGBTQIA individuals. It was amazing however, to engage in discussion about why we each felt this way and still be able to respect each other’s right to feel the way we do. It was truly powerful. By discussing reasons why we have a Safe Zone, we actually created one which enabled us to have a more educated discussion.

Having been a college student at Baruch at the founding of the Dare to Engage Working Group and start of our campus’ Safe Zone, I can attest that our reason for establishing such a committee and collaboration across the Baruch College community, is to send the right message of inclusivity, safety, fairness and to start engaging the community at large in discussing certain topics that have otherwise been neglected or too taboo to discuss.

Our working group is called Dare to ENGAGE—not persuade, sway, change, alter, or argue. Our college has a history of promoting all types of diversity and multiculturalism and identifying as part of LGBTQIA, definitely adds to the diversity of our institution. By engaging the Baruch College community through special events, panels, workshops, discussion forums and celebrating LGBT History Month, we are not simply about activism, but about creating an environment of acceptance for all.

At the end of the day, if a prospective non-heterosexual student who is researching Baruch College comes across the page for eSafeZone by clicking on ‘LGBTQIA’, than that means we are sending the message to them that we accept them for who they are and do not discriminate based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. What’s great about Dare to Engage (D2E) is that it’s for faculty, staff and students to come together—to learn and grow through safe engagement.

Till next time!

Jordan

Out in the Workplace – 5th Annual Community and University Collaboration

October 8, 2013

5:30 – 8pm
at
KPMG’s Heritage Center
345 Park Avenue (@ 51st Street)
New York, New York

Join us as we share ways to build inclusive environments for LGBTQ employees, students and allies. The event will kick off with networking, followed by a panel presentation of corporate and higher ed. professionals and students, and will end with community and employment based resources for all participants. Panelists will include representatives from: JP Morgan Commercial Banking, KPMG, NYIT, Out for Work, & Price Waterhouse Cooper

Participating sponsors and employers include the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce, Gay City News, JP Morgan Commercial Banking, KPMG, Out for Work, and Price Waterhouse Cooper. Partnering universities include Baruch College, Columbia University, Fordham University, John Jay College for Criminal Justice, New York Institute of Technology and Pace University.

Register by Monday September 30, 2013

Register here: http://surveys.myinterfase.com/TakeSurvey.aspx?SurveyID=76KJ7nl62

Guess Who’s Back?!

Happy 1st day of classes everyone!

It is always such an exciting time when a new semester starts and the entire Baruch College community is reunited after a summer apart. I am proud to announce that after a year and a half away from the Dare to Engage Working Group and eSafeZone, that JORDAN IS BACK! =}

jordan

I am now a part-time graduate student in the School of Public Affairs studying Higher Education Administration while working in the Office of Student and Residence Life and will be the head blogger for eSafeZone once more. Who knew I’d be back?! 

I’ve already been busy with eSafeZone business since early August by working with the LGBT History Month Committee and prepping for this educational webinar that Dare to Engage is hosting on Monday September 23rd, 2013 regarding bisexual, pansexual, fluid and queer (BPFQ) sexual identities at public four-year universities. To RSVP for the webinar event click here.

Blogging goals I have this year are to:

·         Increase blog readership & spread awareness about the Dare to Engage Working Group

·         Start doing opinion pieces to increase discussion of college community members

·         Introduce a student of the month segment

·         Start doing a creative writing and arts segment

Be seeing you!

Your friendly neighborhood blogger,

Jordan

It was good while it lasted…

Hello everyone,

So it’s been a while since I’ve posted and there has been quite a lot of changes! First off, this will be my last post because I have graduated from Baruch, which means I no longer am an active member of the Dare to Engage Committee. My dear friend Farzana Ghanie will be taking over the blog for the remainder of the school year. She is a highly qualified person who is a wonderful leader in the Baruch community and I strongly believe that she will do an excellent job with the blog! Before passing the blog site onto Farzana, I would like to say a few closing remarks.

To begin with, my experience with the D2E committee has been so amazing. Not only did I meet a group of wonderful people, I learned a lot! I remember Jordan asked me to join the group because I was/am openly expressive of my opinions and when Baruch first started launching events to bring awareness of the LGBTQIA community, I attended these events and made it clear that I believe a person’s sexuality should not and does not define them nor is it something to be “fixed.” Now this view has not changed, but what has is my knowledge. I’ve grown to learn more about the LGBTQIA community and about not being ignorant in general. Why am I telling you this? Because as I close off my part of the blog, I want to leave you guys with this in mind, supporting a community, doesn’t just help those in the community; it helps you! Joining D2E not only helped me to actively support a community that I think is mistreated, it helped me to learn and grow as a person! So let’s stop being close minded because how far can one truly get if they don’t expand their horizons?

Next, not to preach on, but to reiterate what I have been saying since I have been blogging on this site, let’s make Baruch a better place for everyone! Let’s stop the discriminating and let Baruch be everyone’s home where all members of the Baruch community can feel safe being EXACTLY who they are and not having to hide themselves. Recently, Jordan sent me a link to a video of a high school student who “came out” while accepting an award at his schoool (I’ve posted the link/video below). Anyways, this got me thinking, imagine how hard it is for you or someone you know to tell everyone, especially those closest to you a big secret that you aren’t sure how they would react? For instance, what if you had to tell your parents you’re pregnant/got someone pregnant??? How long would you walk around stressing about telling them and about how they would react? Or what if you have really strict parents who insist on you majoring in business but you know deep down you are meant to major in art and want to do art. How much would this bother you??? Well think about members of the LGBTQIA community who spend years, even decades hiding who they are because they are afraid people won’t accept them or will treat them differently. Imagine Jacob Rudolph’s (the senior in the video) struggle as he tries to do his best in school and gets along with everyone but all the while no one knew who he really was so he couldn’t freely express himself. Imagine how that stress can hinder someone’s life. Now, as I close this blog, I’m asking you to go out there and make yourself one less person who adds to that stress. Make yourself one less person that someone has to hide from. Be that comfort that someone needs. And remember, not only are you helping them, you’re help yourself.

Senior Comes Out While Accepting Award

“Obama Supports Gay Marriage & Abortion. Do you? Vote Republican.”

“Obama Supports Gay Marriage & Abortion. Do you? Vote Republican.”
By: Anonymous D2E Member

Upon first seeing this ad I thought, is this election really so simple that it can be boiled down to one or two platform points? Surely not! Then I considered what this kind of ad assumes about how people make a voting decision. It assumes that people will pick the candidate whose platform matches their personal opinions. So where to personal opinions come from? Messages from family? School? Culture? Religion? What about science? Do we more often populate our values and opinions with our best guess of what most people think, or what we think we should think, or do we ever consider what is scientific fact?

Gay people exist. Fact.
Gay people want equal marriage rights. Fact.
Research supports the benefits of gay people having equal marriage rights. Fact.
For a casual summary of such findings, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Same-sex_marriage.

It then occurred to me that if you’re not in favor of gay marriage, this says a lot about your personal relationship with science, your ability to make data-driven decisions, and what you think carries more weight, your opinion, others’ opinions, or what science has to say. Perhaps it is indeed appropriate to base a vote solely on the issue of gay marriage. I don’t want a president with “opinions,” I want a president who is an academic, an educated and frequent consumer of research. I’d like my president to keep religious choices in holy places and personal opinions at home. These have no place in government. That presidential candidates are even disclosing their religious beliefs is antithetical to the separation between church and state we’re supposed to have in this country. Why does it even matter? It matters because tons of people value their own opinions over others’ opinions or the scientific method.

A president willing to put personal beliefs aside and go for what science has found to be true is the president for me. This fundamental concept applies down the line to all issues in any election. Why would anyone want a president who ignores science in lieu of “going with their gut.” That’s lumping a lot of trust into someone who isn’t taking science seriously. What if they’re using this same kind of non-scientific reasoning on other issues like the economy and foreign policy? Sounds like trouble to me.

So whether you support gay marriage or not, what matters more, what you think or what is right? Please vote accordingly.

Homosexuality & Religion

Religion has always been seen as a sensitive topic to discuss and so has homosexuality. But what happens when you’re discussing the two together? It gets heated!!!!

I recall about a year or two back when the Dare the Engage committee started hosting events on religion and homosexuality, I went to quite a few of these events, and I think that’s why Jordan thought I would be a good choice for a D2E member!

Religion comes in all different forms; Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, and so on. Beyond these different religions, many have different sects. So it all comes down to what is religion because obviously what’s religion to one person is not religion to another. What one Christian may see as right, another may see as wrong. Therefore, who even comes up with the rules of right and wrong in religion? See why I say it’s a sensitive topic and a complex one because frankly there is no right answer!

According to Merriam-Webster’s dictionary, religion is “a personal set or institutionalized system of religious attitudes, beliefs, and practices.” Note the word personal!!! Meaning an individual! Even if we want to focus on the institutionalized part of the definition, is it talking about all institutions? No, it’s a certain institution’s beliefs. Therefore, why should anyone be imposing their religious beliefs on another?

But this isn’t just a discussion on religion, it’s a discussion on homosexuality and religion! And I’ll be honest, I’m not expert on any religion, not even my own, but one thing I do know is everyone has different beliefs no matter what religion they’re in. When I sat at the panel discussion the D2E committee had a few years ago, there were members from a variety of religions, some who were homosexual and some who weren’t. Some who saw homosexuality as wrong and against God’s wishes, and others who didn’t. Therefore, the question comes up again, what’s right and what’s wrong!!!

Following the panel discussion, a few movies were shown on different days addressing the conflict between homosexuality and certain religions. And once again we saw, people in the same religion had different views on what’s right and wrong. What God or their divine figure approves of and what he doesn’t. So once again, what’s right and what’s wrong!!!

Well as I mentioned before, there is no correct answer because we all have our opinions and beliefs, but I’ll share what I, and I repeat this is simply what I think, not what is the ultimate law, even though it would be cool if I could make these laws! Anyways! I think we all need to realize that we are different and we need to accept that. We need to not try to impose our beliefs and get anyone to “change” or be “fixed.” God made us all a certain way, and he chose to make some people homosexual, or bisexual, etc. He didn’t make us all the same because one that would be boooooooooring! It was his choice to make us the way he did therefore, trying to force someone to change their sexual orientation because you don’t think it’s “right” and it doesn’t follow the norm is telling God “hey you messed up but don’t worry I’ll fix it for you.”

So that’s my view, let’s all love and accept each other for our individual selves and not for what we want others to be. But that’s just my opinion, what’s yours?

Also, here’s a picture someone had put on FB that I must say I really liked and felt like sharing!

Enjoy and comment!

Blood, Bathrooms, and Blogs – Community Engagement at Baruch

Written By Christina Chala, Macaulay Honors Advisor

What forms of organizing and political voice make an impact?

How do we know when to act?

How do we know what kind of action to take?

Some food for thought.

I find myself thinking a lot about the role of LGBTQIA student organizations in holding their campuses accountable to non-discrimination policies (here is CUNY’s statement on non-discrimination: http://www.cuny.edu/about/administration/offices/ohrm/diversity/StrategicInitiatives.html ). Some examples: you are probably familiar with the recent Chick-fil-a issue, and from time to time students and community members try to raise awareness about the FDA’s ban on blood donation by MSM (men who have sex with men). http://www.cnn.com/2012/07/06/health/gay-men-blood-ban/index.html

Both the American Red Cross and the American Association of Blood Banks report that the current FDA ban on MSM blood donation “is medically and scientifically unwarranted.”3
http://www.kent.edu/uhs/upload/formattedmsm_goldberg_gates.pdf

Another to consider is how our campus makes bathrooms and locker rooms available to our trans and gender-non-conforming communities.

In your opinion, what kinds of action make a difference? Or a better question perhaps is: how do we take action that is positive, and constructive? Have you been involved with any groups or organizations which you believe have succeeded in making positive change?

In the case of the blood ban, I think about how many would agree that donating blood is a good idea, so boycotting blood donations- not such a good idea. Creating some kind of action that deters eligible donors is problematic. Hospitals need blood. The Red Cross is legally accountable to the FDA policy. What would you do?

Many campus actions tend to aim toward educational initiatives tied in with blood donation drives. Whether it is educational handouts or even including a petition to the FDA to stop the ban on gay blood at campus blood drives. Objectives accomplished: blood still gets donated (by those who legally can) and a whole cadre of interested community members learn about this outdated and discriminatory policy.

Then there was the chik-fil-a controversy. Just a little south of us 11,000 NYU community members signed a petition protesting the presence of chik-fil-a on their campus. When the issue came to a vote by the university student senate they voted to retain the restaurant on campus. Are they representing their LGBTQ students by supporting the retention of chik-fil-a? Are they upholding their campus non-discrimination policy? I think for many it was reduced to a matter of free speech. We can look at the situation and say, well if you don’t like how chik-fil-a spends their money, just don’t go there. I ask folks thinking along this line to also take a moment to think about the impact of hate speech and hate crimes in general. I would assert that speech is not neutral. Speech that makes the environment feel unsafe is threatening. This is why ideas such as creating “safe zones” and conducting safe zone trainings exist on many campuses. Here at Baruch we have an eSafeZone and the Dare to Engage Working Group working on making our campus culture and climate welcoming for people of all genders and sexual orientations.

As new buildings and building renovations come and go what effort do we as a community make (or need to make) to ensure compliance with our non-discrimination policy? We all have to pee some times, and gender neutral facilities just make sense.

A great resource for more information on this issue, check out the film “Toilet Training” by the Sylvia Rivera Law Project. Here is their companion guide to the film: http://srlp.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/2010-toolkit.pdf

Last, pondering action and accountability brought to mind the upcoming election. From macro to micro, there are many ways we can make our voices heard. Getting involved with Baruch G.L.A.S.S., the Dare to Engage Working Group, other campus organizations, city organizations (do all 5 boroughs have LGBTQ community centers yet?), or local community organizations. There are a lot of ways to get involved, and get heard. If you haven’t figured it out yet, I am a big fan of the quote “never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world. Indeed , it is the only thing that ever has.” – attributed to Margaret Mead.

So, are you registered to vote (if you can)?
http://www.baruch.cuny.edu/election2012/
http://blsciblogs.baruch.cuny.edu/honors/honors-activities/voter-eligibility/

And I will see you at the next Baruch blood drive:
https://baruch.qualtrics.com/SE/?SID=SV_cOtOE8tXstHtdJy

Let’s Learn Something

So the summer has suddenly ended and the semester has crept up on us, blah! So now it’s time for classes right? Well if some of you are looking for a class to fill up your schedule or one that will actually interest you, you’re in luck!!!!

Below you will find a list of classes throughout the CUNY system which are being offered during the Fall 2012 Semester and have a focus on LBGTQIA. As you may notice, very few of the classes are only focused on LGBTQIA issues, but hey at least most of them will discuss it, and we all know each semester we have to try to find the bright side of each class!

For those of you who have actually looked for these classes before but had difficulty finding them, I understand your pain! I spent days looking through each college’s list of classes trying to find related courses, what’s worse, a lot of courses don’t have a description via CUNY Portal and it’s not that easy to find on their website. This shows us that our schools need to find a system to make searching classes based on topics easier, after all, registration is stress enough!!!

What I do really like and highly recommend to everyone, especially those looking for a class to fill their schedule, check out Hunter’s Social Science’s Department’s Women and Gender Studies courses with a focus on sexuality (WGSS)! This seems like a very educational course on LGBTQIA and what I really love is it’s focus on different aspects of LGBTQIA instead of just homosexuality, so use E-PERMIT people!!!

Note, if you are interested in the courses offered at Brooklyn College, you can go to http://www.brooklyn.cuny.edu/web/off_registrar/120726_BulletinUndergraduate_2011-12.pdf for a description of the courses.

Finally, for those of you who believe these courses are not for you because you don’t fall into the “LGBTQIA” category, well guess what, you’re mistaken. These courses are meant to be a source of education and as college students living in a society where this is an important topic, it is our job to educate ourselves! You’ll be surprised at what you will learn and may even change your perspective, so don’t be shy, let’s get cultured and educated!!!!

And as always, if you have any comments, questions, concerns, or inputs on these classes, COMMENT!!! =)