Race, religion and sexual orientation are not often the topic of casual conversations among students.
However, that was the focus Tuesday night.
Twice a year, the Allies of Texas State invite the students and faculty to become an ally by learning about the realities faced by the Lesbian,
Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and Questioning (LGBTQ) community through their bi-annual meeting.
Tuesday night, Rev. Jamie Washington spoke to students at the LBJ Teaching Theater about how race, religion and sexual orientation intertwine and affect individuals and relationships, in the dialogue entitled, “One More River to Cross.”
“Sometimes we have to step somewhere else to see the other perspective,” Washington said during the interactive lecture. “Then we begin to see there are multiple perspectives to this conversation.”
Washington, who resides in the Baltimore area, is active in student affairs at different universities nationwide and is the founder of Washington Consulting Group, a multicultural organizational development firm.
Amanda Clay, Allies team intern and counseling and guidance graduate student, said Washington spoke to students, faculty and staff during two separate lectures. One centered on how faculty and staff can promote equality in the classroom. In the second, students were asked to open up and face the issues regarding the acceptance and inclusion of the minorities and members of the LGBTQ community.
Washington presented the idea of a cycle of oppression that takes place. He said all individuals are born the same but are treated differently based on specific circumstances.
“We got born, and then we are and we came into a world with this dynamic,” Washington said.
Washington asked students to acknowledge the separation and notice how they keep this dynamic alive. He said once the public accepts discrimination takes place, racism and heterosexism can be battled.
“Actually, I haven’t encountered anything like this (at Texas State) personally, but I’m sure they exist,” said Carter Kaough, business marketing sophomore. “This is a good thing, encouraging people to help stop problems like this.”
The Allies of Texas State is a program that works to educate others about the LGBTQ and to promote the everyday inclusion of gays in campus life.
“We mostly educate heterosexual individuals of this community so they can be straight allies,” said Heather Aidala, co-chair for the Allies Program Team.
Aidala said the Allies of Texas State hold events for members of the LGBTQ community like Welcome to the Family, an event for new students at the university, and the Lavender Graduation, which serves as a safe spot for LBGTQ graduates to celebrate their accomplishments.
The Allies Team is made up of faculty, staff and student organization leaders, which include one representative from Lambda and Bobcat Equality Alliance.
The group offers training and workshops for individuals on the university or in the San Marcos communities who want to learn more about the LBGTQ community. Anyone interested in becoming an ally must attend at least one training session and sign a contract, pledging to be a supportive member.
The group offered four workshops to interested allies this semester, which offered information on how to improve the treatment of members of gay community.
Clay said she hopes students will walk away from the lecture with more information about the LBGTQ community.
“Maybe they weren’t aware of this community before,” Clay said. “Maybe they can just take away some information on how to be more sensitive.”