Convos Create Change discusses gender and sexuality experiences surrounding FHSU and Hays community

STORY AND PHOTOS BY KERISA BROWN
VIDEO BY GRANT ROWLEY

Last Tuesday, Arts for Social Change teamed up with the Paseo Art Platform, the Fort Hays State University Black Student Union, the Hispanic American Leadership Organization, the FHSU Gender and Sexuality Alliance and the FHSU African Ambassadors to host their second Convos Create Change Panel.

Convos Create Change is a panel conversation series that discusses topics including race, gender, sexuality, and religion. This week’s panel was a conversation about gender and sexuality.

The conversation included a wide range of talking points including the panelists’ own personal experiences as well as topics of gender and sexuality as it relates to student life at FHSU. These topics included advice to others, hate and discrimination, religion, common misconceptions, asexuality, and more.

Panelists even offered some advice to attendees or listeners who might be questioning their sexuality.  

“My advice to someone who is questioning their sexuality is that outness is not a prerequisite for your validity,” panelist Cole Beneda said. “It doesn’t matter where you are on the spectrum or if you are still discovering it – our community has a place for you.”

The panel also discussed how FHSU responds to matters regarding gender and sexuality such as a push for implementing all-gender bathrooms. They expressed they are proud of how FHSU has handled matters thus far, but said there is still much that needs to be done. 

The panel encouraged students to reach out to administration with any concerns regarding any necessary accommodations or problems they’ve been facing on campus. 

“Clearly they are willing to listen. I mean they changed the bathroom arrangements in multiple buildings, they’ve been willing to talk to students or at least to listen, so be willing to [reach out to administration],” panelist and student Addison Westhoff said regarding FHSU’s responses to all-gender bathrooms. 

Throughout the conversation, panelists shared their personal experiences with homophobia and discrimination both in and outside of the LGBTQ+ community. 

“The LGBTQ community is a community that was built on love and wanting to respect other people and what they’re trying to do,” panelist and community member Mayvis Clair McCobb said. “I feel like there’s just not room for [discrimination] within the community and especially outside the community.”

The event was held in the Black and Gold Room in the Union but was also live streamed on social media in order to maintain proper safety guidelines due to the pandemic. Convos Create Change will continue throughout the semester and will also be coming to a podcast format soon.

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