In recent years, the LGBTQA+ community has taken many strides toward equal rights with the legalization of same-sex marriage in 2015 and the passing of the Equality Act in 2019, but the fight for equality isn’t over yet.
The University of Nebraska-Lincoln LGBTQA+ Resource Center is working hard to ensure students have a safe place to express their thoughts and concerns about the looming election.
In partnership with Counseling and Psychological Services, the LGBTQA+ Resource Center will host a discussion called Staying Resilient in Election Season. The event will take place via Zoom on Oct. 29 from noon to 1 p.m. It was designed for LGBTQA+-identifying students to listen to and discuss their election season concerns in a judgement-free environment.
According to JD McCown, assistant director of the LGBTQA+ Resource Center, the discussion will be held in a support group fashion and will allow students to gain reassurance from their peers in this election season.
“It’s essentially people coming together and just talking about different stressors that are happening with the elections and how to cope with them,” McCown said. “The discussion is going to be led by the people who attend to make sure they get whatever support they need out of the event.”
Knowing this would be a challenging time for LGBTQA+ students, McCown said the event was inspired by a brainstorming session on how to support them at this time.
“Having someone who is trained in counseling and has that background can provide a level of support for students that we ourselves cannot provide as a staff,” McCown said. “CAPS has a wonderful way of supporting students and their background in a support group setting will hopefully allow people to feel more open and comfortable speaking.”
McCown also addressed the different factors that can cause students’ concern during the election season, whether that be about the politics itself or from family and conflicts.
“What is important for LGBTQA+ folks is that knowing there are people in your life who are voting for things that might be harming you can cause a lot of stress,” McCown said. “We want to think that people want what's best for us, but there are some people who are still voting for things that are not pro-LGBTQA+. It’s important to have some type of election piece to this discussion.”
Due to COVID-19, the LGBTQA+ center has not been able to exist as a social space for students as it has been in past years and is open by appointment only. McCown said she hopes the center is able to keep students connected during this abnormal time.
“I’m hoping that events like these are helping to create that connection where we aren’t able to right now,” McCown said. “We’ve actually seen some of our events play out better virtually than they have in person in the past, which shows that students are still wanting to continue that connection.”
Sophomore emerging media arts student Ebben Blake said he believes it’s important that the LGBTQA+ Resource Center and CAPS hold events like this to let LGBTQA+ students be heard and speak out in a confidential space.
“Holding this event is great because it allows people who aren’t normally talked about and seen to be seen and be heard,” Blake said. “Especially this election season, I think we have worked so hard, especially with legalizing gay marriage and then to now have to worry about if I’m even going to be considered a human being. It’s a big issue because I have to consider if I’m gonna have to go back into the closet to actually have a living and be a person.”