LGBTU creates helpful outlet for students

” The University of Akron Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Union is a group of open-minded students who meet every Tuesday in the Student Union. Part of their constitution states that they consider it necessary to validate the uniqueness of each individual’s sexual orientation, gender identity and expression.”

The University of Akron Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Union is a group of open-minded students who meet every Tuesday in the Student Union.

Part of their constitution states that they consider it necessary to validate the uniqueness of each individual’s sexual orientation, gender identity and expression.

LGBTU was founded in the mid-1980s at UA, according to the group’s president, Jay Smith.

There are a wide variety of topics that are discussed at the meetings, he said.

He explained that they talk about things such as coming out, relationships, religion and politics. Anything that is going on in a member’s life can be discussed.
There are usually anywhere from twenty to forty people in attendance at regular meetings.

It is important to realize that students who are not lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender are encouraged to attend.

We have a lot of allies who attend meetings, Smith said.

In the case of LGBTU, an ally is a straight person who strongly supports lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

The group’s Web site lists ways to become an ally. It advises people to avoid anti-gay jokes and to create an atmosphere of acceptance. It also says to avoid stereotypes and understand that one LBGT person can’t speak for the entire LGBT community.

We sometimes talk about how to handle situations where there is discrimination, Smith said.

The meetings sometimes feature guest speakers. Past guest speakers have included members from Equality Ohio, the UA Counseling Center, and TransFamily, a support group for transgendered people.

Smith noted that the people from the Counseling Center are absolutely wonderful to work with.

Smith understands that there may be some misconceptions about the purpose of LGBTU.

I think some people might think that it’s just a group where we come and hold hands and cry about all the misfortunes we have because of our sexuality, and it’s not, he explained.

We do discuss ‘coming out’ stories because that is something some members in the group don’t get to do any other time. It’s really the only place a lot of people have where they feel comfortable enough to talk about that sort of thing.

A lot of times, though, it’s incredibly fun. We laugh and hold all types of conversations, he added.

They also have fun events like movie nights and game nights. LGBTU is cosponsoring a social with ZPN during diversity week. The social’s official name is Glow With Us: LGBT and Allies Social and will be held Sept. 25 at 7 p.m. in Student Union ballrooms C, D and E.

They are also cosponsoring an open forum with the UA LGBT Equality Committee called Everything You Wanted to Ask, but Were too Afraid to. It will be held Sept. 21 at 7 p.m. in the Student Union third floor lounge.

There will be a panel of faculty and students who will be able to answer questions about the LGBT community.

They also hold fundraisers, organize trips to Cedar Point and host an annual drag show here on campus.

Last year we had somewhere around 150 people in attendance [at the drag show], Smith said.

There is also an online store that can be visited at www.cafepress.com/lgbtu.

Vice president of LGBTU is Krystal Lamb, treasurer is Maha Hatoum, secretary is Becca Salchak, and publicity and technology coordinator is Nina Reynolds.

Call news writer Bonnie Blun:

330-972-7362

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