Newswise — Texas Tech University’s Office of LGBTQIA will host the first Big 12 LGBTQIA & Allies Summit Friday through Sunday (March 23-25) in the Student Union Building (SUB). The summit will bring together 175 college students, faculty, staff and community members who are committed to inclusion, access and equity within higher education from Texas Tech and St. Edwards University, South Plains College, Texas Christian University, Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, the University of North Texas, the University of North Texas Health Sciences Center, the University of Texas at Arlington and West Texas A&M University.

“The aim of the summit for us is threefold,” said Jody Randall, lead administrator for the Office of LGBTQIA. “First, we will take note of and celebrate the significant progress our attendees have witnessed toward LGBTQIA inclusion. Secondly, we will discuss the experiences of LGBTQIA people and allies today. And, thirdly, we will collaborate on the work ahead to continue moving our institutions, organizations and communities toward a more equitable society.”

Plenary speakers for the summit include Bernadette Barton, a professor of sociology and gender studies at Morehead State University, and Robyn Ochs, an educator, speaker, grassroots activist and author. Ochs will deliver her lecture, “Expanding Our Circles,” at 2 p.m. Saturday. Barton will deliver her lecture, “Research as Social Justice Work,” at 11 a.m. Sunday. Both lectures will take place in the SUB Matador Room.

“Robyn’s knowledge, skill and passion for having authentic conversations on topics of sexuality and gender are known and respected among higher education professionals,” Randall said. “She also is very aware of the bubbles we form within institutions that are proactive with their inclusion efforts. Her plenary will address this issue and challenge attendees to think beyond these spaces to the greater world around us.

“Bernadette’s academic research focuses on the experiences of marginalized groups and the question of what causes people to change oppressive social attitudes and behavior,” Randall continued. “Recognizing everyone’s differences and that we each come to the ideas of diversity and inclusion from unique places, her plenary will speak to how one uses their academic endeavors as part of a greater social justice effort.”

The three-day event also will include campus tours, social activities, educational sessions and identity and role caucuses. Topics will include civic engagement and advocacy, families and LGBTQIA identities, working with LGBTQIA students and a deeper understanding of sexual identities such as asexuality and bisexuality. The presenters for the summit’s educational sessions range from students, faculty, staff and alumni of Texas Tech to staff from Equality Texas.

“Hosting the first Big 12 LGBTQIA & Allies Summit represents an historic moment at Texas Tech University,” said Elizabeth Sharp, interim vice president for the Division of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion. “This summit promises to further our efforts in making Texas Tech more inclusive for all Red Raiders.”

Attendees and other registered guests will participate in the Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) Lubbock 25th Anniversary Celebration at 6:30 p.m. Saturday (March 24) in the SUB Red Raider Ballroom. A special musical piece will be performed by Betty Dotts, co-founder of PFLAG Lubbock, and remarks will be offered by Jamie Curtis, director of chapter engagement at PFLAG National.

Those attending also will have a choice of film screenings at 9 p.m. Saturday. “Transpose,” a documentary about the challenges and triumphs of the lives of transgender people in Texas, will be screened in the SUB Mesa Room. There will be a private screening of “Love, Simon” at Alamo Drafthouse. The 20th Century Fox film is the first mainstream romantic comedy released by a major studio that focuses on gay teenage romance.

In addition to the summit, the Office of LGBTQIA is hosting and partnering with other groups to offer several programs during the university’s fifth annual Diversity Week.

Allies Program: Faculty Panel on Experiences with LGBTQIA Individuals & Topics of Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity

Faculty and staff panel members will share their experiences in the classroom and on campus, and discuss proactive strategies for experiences encountered living “a day in the life” of an authentic ally. The panel will be held from noon to 1:15 p.m. Tuesday (March 20) in Teaching, Learning & Professional Development Center, Room 153, and registration is requested. 

Queer Reels, Real Topics Film Series: “Training Rules” The Office of LGBTQIA and Women & Gender Studies will screen “Training Rules” at 7 p.m. Tuesday (March 20) in the SUB Escondido Theater. This film documents Rene Portland’s three training rules during her 26 years coaching basketball at Pennsylvania State University – no drinking, no drugs and no lesbians. “Training Rules” examines how a wealthy athletic department allowed talented athletes, thought to be gay, to be dismissed from their college team.

Allies Program: Session on the Intersectionality of Faith and LGBTQIA Lives

This session will focus on the connections and intersections of faith and the LGBTQIA community. The session will provide information on ways that students, faculty and staff can strengthen inclusivity at Texas Tech.

The session will be held at noon Thursday (March 22) in the SUB Canyon Room and registration is requested.


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CONTACT: Jody Randall, Lead Administrator, Office of LGBTQIA, Texas Tech University, (806) 742-5433 or [email protected]