GSA Leadership Summit
On Feb. 25, more than 240 high-school and college students, as well as educators and activists, came together in the Holland Union Building for the fourth annual GSA Leadership Summit—its largest gathering yet.
A joint project of Dickinson’s Office of Diversity Initiatives (ODI) and Common Roads, the youth-programming arm of the LGBT Community Center Coalition, the summit was an opportunity for students and professionals to network and learn how to advocate for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning and allied youth.
“The fourth year was definitely our year in terms of number of participants, quality and breadth of the workshops and the enthusiasm of the presenters,” said Paula Lima-Jones, director of ODI. “It was powerful to witness the Social Hall filled with so many engaged students, professionals, advisors and volunteers.
Attendees chose from more than a dozen workshops throughout the day, including Wired for Activism by keynote speaker Peterson Toscano; Bisexuality within the Spectrum co-led by Susannah Bartlow, director of the Women’s Center, and Peter Paquette, assistant dean of students; and Building Trans-Inclusive Communities, led by a panel from Millersville University and TransCentral PA. [Story continues below.]
“The summit was a great outlet for students gay and straight to learn more about themselves in relation to each other,” said participant Anthony Bush ’11. “It definitely tackles many issues that queer youth deal with on a day-to-day basis.”
The summit also kicked off a weekend of events, including a Friday-evening screening of Toilet Training, a film about bathroom access in public space that examines the intersections of transphobia, sexism, racism, ageism and ableism. Megan Yost, assistant professor of psychology, and Laura Grappo, assistant professor of American studies, led a discussion afterward.
Sunday saw Voices of Pride, a concert that brought together several area LGBT choirs with Dickinson’s a capella groups the Syrens, D-Tones and Infernos and social-justice performers the Silent Poets in the Anita Tuvin Schlechter auditorium. Sponsored by Pride@Dickinson, a project of ODI, and the Office of Religious Life, the concert included performances both spiritual and secular.
“Being involved in Voices of Pride has reminded me of the many voices I heard growing up—from the pulpit, at school, in my home, in my heart and in my mind,” said Joy Verner, coordinator of Pride@Dickinson and assistant to the vice president for student development, to the crowd on Sunday. “[It’s about] engaging our community, embracing our equality.”
By Michelle Simmons
Photos by Carl Socolow ’77