“I am Dani. I value diversity. I am a campus leader. I am a football player. I am a good friend. I am highly involved on campus, and I am an extrovert. I am also questioning my gender identity.”
Dani is a representation of students who have multiple identities. Programs like Integrated Educational Studies (IES) explore ideas to affirm students like Dani and create a college environment where he can fulfill his fullest potential. The IES 310 course LGBTQ Issues in Education provides students with the knowledge and skills to accomplish this. Similar to IES 310 students learning throughout the semester, the general public is understanding more about the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer (LGBTQ) community with the recent increase in publicity and media coverage.
The course is designed for students to explore sexual and gender identity issues, linking social theories to personal life experiences. In the course, students participate in class discussions and activities — challenging students to think about gender identity differently. While some feel very uneasy at first thinking about how issues such as transphobia in schools and universities, many students realize gender is fluid and that there are infinite possibilities of gender identity and expression. In a nutshell, students in IES 310 often make the following conclusions about gender identity and expression:
- There is no right or wrong way
- There are unlimited possibilities
- We should accept people for who they are, regardless of gender identity or sexual identity
- If you are true to yourself, you can be happy
Learning about critical concepts such as gender identity and expression extend beyond personal knowledge to the creation of inclusive schools and universities. Courses like these promote inclusion in schools and universities, for students like Dani. High schools throughout the country have Gay-Straight Alliances. The White House and universities throughout the country have provided transgender and gender-fluid students with gender inclusive restrooms.
In the Spring of 2015, students were tasked with developing a promising practice on our campus. One work group designed a plan for how fraternities, sports teams, and other campus organizations can work together to create safe spaces for transgender students. This project would include ways for recruitment to be more open to multiple gender identities and expressions, strategies for collaboration with Queer Straight Alliances, and philanthropic events for LGBTQ youth.
Diversity at Chapman University
Diversity and equity are rooted in Chapman’s heritage, values, and mission. In the 1920s, Chapman had a multiracial student body, and today, Chapman is building on that unique heritage by creating a diverse curriculum and community with students from more than 60 countries with rich identities and histories. Chapman celebrates and teaches diversity through academic coursework, events, speakers, student clubs, and workshops. Some diversity efforts include the Next Step Social Justice Retreat, Ubuntu Community Dialogue Circle, Safe Space Program, Black Student Union, Asian Pacific Student Association, Queer Straight Alliance, American Sign Language Club, Chapman Feminists and many more (view all diversity programs and education). The University has also proudly hosted speakers such as RJ Mitte, Lea Delaria, Mia McKenzie, Lt. Dan Choi, and Martin Luther King, Jr.
Chapman University is committed to fostering learning and working environments that encourage and embrace diversity, multiple perspectives, and the free exchange of ideas as important measures to advance educational and social benefits. Learn more about Diversity at Chapman.
On the last day of class, a student from IES 310 wrote a poem that captures the essence of why LGBTQ-inclusive schools are important.
The Authentic Self
Pushed and pulled by those that want me to conform
Because my sexuality, my gender, or my body parts aren’t the norm
Why is my love on trial?
I’m not the one in denial
People ask about my goals in life, but I can’t say.
I want to become myself.
I want to be truly who I am.
I want to live my life as me.
I want to just be me, without lines of clarity.
They tell me to love who I am
But who I am will only disappoint them;
I cannot be me without upsetting you
Do I apologize?
Do I change?
Do I continue to tip-toe around small minds?
I am more than what they fail to understand;
I am more than what you see;
I am more than my own short-comings,
And this is not one of them.
I unapologetically love myself
I am strong even though I feel weak.
I am inquisitive, yet hidden.
To survive I am optimistic.
I hold my parents near and dear to my heart, but…
My family is constantly oblivious to my accomplishments
But I am more than a failure, so save me your comments.
Who I am is not a mistake that has been made,
Who I am is who I will be.
Just let me be.
If I am open with my feelings
Then I can be understood for my authentic self.
I want to be supported and be seen for who I am.
That is all I can ask for.