On Thursday, April 4, the SVSU’s Sexuality and Gender Spectrum Alliance (SAGSA) hosted its first “LGBTQ&A” panel in the Alumni Lounge in Curtiss Hall.
The panel, which took place at 8 p.m., was organized primarily by biology senior Mia Berlanga, with help from the other officers of SAGSA’s executive board.
“The goal of this event was to provide a space for students to ask questions of members of the LGBT community that they wouldn’t otherwise be able to ask for fear of sounding ignorant or offensive,” Berlanga said.
According to Berlanga, SAGSA’s executive board has been working hard on planning the panel since last year. The group decided that it would be a beneficial event for college students, whether they are on the LGBTQ+ spectrum themselves, or if they aren’t and just want to learn more about the community.
The panel itself was led by the president of SAGSA, Megan Flattery, as the moderator and Sam Miller as the host. The panel consisted of SAGSA members.
Each of the members featured at the event proudly identified as somewhere on the LGBT spectrum.
They willingly offered up information about their experiences.
After brief introductions and an explanation of some important vocabulary, discussions started covering a wide array of topics. Some of these topics included pronoun usage, gender identity and expression, the benefits and drawbacks of using labels, and coming out stories.
In addition to the pre-written questions and speaking topics the panelists came prepared with, student attendees were given various opportunities and methods for asking questions.
“We took questions and comments from the people who attended,” Berlanga said. “There was also an option for paper submissions before we started, and we used a website as a way for attendees to submit questions anonymously in real time.”
SAGSA’s members included the opportunity to submit questions anonymously because they wanted everyone in the room to feel comfortable enough to ask the question they wanted to ask without having the pressure of everyone else knowing that they asked it.
“We thought it would be beneficial to have the main method for asking questions be something we could filter through before presenting the questions to the audience,” Berlanga said.
Berlanga thought the panel created an environment in which everyone in the room felt comfortable enough to speak their mind and share their stories.
“This event was a chance for us to share the stories of members of the LGBTQ+ community and to demonstrate that every person has their own unique experience and that they have resources and people who will support them along the way,” Berlanga said.
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