On Thursday, November 17, Student Life and Leadership hosted the second part of the Diversity Exploration Series. The event was held in the Oak Room of the Student Center on the Taylorsville Redwood Campus. The topic was lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) inclusion. It was designed to challenge personal biases in order to become a more inclusive society and avoid societal problems that result in hate and violence.
Hande Togrul, the adult program director from the Inclusion Center for Community and Justice, facilitated the discussion. The Inclusion Center for Community and Justice is a not-for-profit organization founded nationally in 1927 and established locally in 1967 by Arch Madsen, Joseph Rosenblatt, and Jack Gallivan, Sr. Its office is presently located on the Westminster College Campus.
The mission of the Inclusion Center is, “a human relations organization dedicated to eliminating prejudice, bigotry, and discrimination. The center develops inclusive solutions to promote respect for all people through conflict resolution, education, advocacy, and empowerment.”
Togrul opened by asking the audience to call out some words that are used in everyday language that would be considered non-inclusive. Some of the terms provided were “gay,” “retard” and “nigger.” She said that these terms are the result of biases, that we all have biases tied to our upbringing and that we need to work to see past them in order to become a more inclusive society.
“Our purpose in presenting this discussion is to promote a diverse and inclusive campus,” said Peter Moosman, diversity chair for Student Life and Leadership.
“Inclusion is about building human relations,” said Togrul as she introduced the audience to what she called the Cycle of Discrimination/Oppression/Liberation Model.
This model is circular and begins with Socialization. These are the things we are taught, modeled about and our identities, values and culture.
The next step on the cycle is Internalization. These include our standards, logic, belief, truth(s) and perspectives.
The third step on the cycle is Actualization. This is where action on the things we have been taught and exposed to comes into play.
The fourth and final step is Institutionalization. These are the procedures, laws and regulations that give advantages to some social groups over others.
Togrul then led the group in what she described as a silent activity where the audience was asked to form one large circle. She instructed that she would read off a list of groups and those people who considered themselves a member of that group or identified with that group should step forward.
She began by calling out “Catholic” and a few people stepped forward. That was followed by Togrul calling out “African-American” and a few people stepped forward.
When she called out “gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender,” fewer people stepped forward and then when she called out “HIV/AIDS,” only one person stepped forward.
She asked how people felt about the activity and what they noticed. Some of the comments included the words “uncomfortable” and “unsafe.” Most everyone agreed that they might have responded differently if they knew each other better or had the opportunity to respond anonymously.
“Inclusion is acknowledging and honoring our individuality, while moving towards unity,” as defined by the Inclusion Center’s website. The advantages of a unified society are vast and include prosperity and harmony that we can all benefit from.
Student Life and Leadership will host its annual Diversity Exploration Dinner on Thursday March 8, 2012 in the Oak Room of the Student Center on the Taylorsville Redwood Campus beginning at 6:00 p.m. The dinner is free of charge.