UA Little Rock students return with important ideas from LGBTQ conference

Four University of Arkansas at Little Rock students presented ways that the campus community can become LGBTQ friendly during a Jan. 30 Alliance meeting.

Members of UA Little Rock’s Alliance barely missed record cold temperatures as they returned from the National LGBTQ Task Force’s annual Creating Change conference in Detroit from Jan. 23-27. Each student who attended took part in two discussions about issues that affect LGBTQ students on college campuses. They spoke about how those issues affect students at UA Little Rock.

“The first program I attended was about creating a queer student leadership program on campus,” said Alliance President Bee Chaney. “The second focused on how to advocate for all-gender toilets. Campus restrooms affect health and retention rates, since students are on campus for long periods of the day and may be holding their urine or simply not drinking water to avoid using gendered bathrooms. Students without proper accommodations are less likely to return the following semester. All gender restrooms need to be a utility in all buildings, accessible to all majors.”

Sophomore Brianna Mundorff attended discussions on Safe Zones and holistic wellness for LGBTQ communities.

“People in the LGBTQ community are at a higher risk of trauma including mental health, poverty, substance abuse, sexual violence, and social discrimination,” Mundorff explained. “This can be somewhat resolved by a safe living space for LGBTQ individuals and wellness programs that go beyond physical wellbeing.”

Junior Chris Kilburn attended discussions focused on digital fundraising in advocacy as well as learning how Fair Anchorage, an Alaska advocacy group, defeated a state ballot initiative seen as detrimental to transgender individuals.

“Trans people should be visible and at the center of campaigning for trans rights in 2019,” Kilburn said.

Sophomore Gunner Retford, an American Sign Language (ASL) interpreter, attended discussions on making events more ASL-accessible and how to better tailor sexual assault prevention programs on college campuses towards LGBTQ students.

“Don’t let accessibility be an afterthought. Interpreters are not volunteers or helpers, they’re there to do a job. Less than 1 percent of queer events are currently accessible to the deaf community,” Retford explained.

Any member of the UA Little Rock campus community who wishes to become involved with the Alliance or any of the initiatives they discussed at the conference can contact Bee Chaney at bmchaney@ualr.edu.

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