An array of colors, plentiful resources and passionate workers can all be found in Wright State’s new Office of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and Ally (LGBTQA) Affairs in 011 Student Union.
Wright State’s first director of LGBTQA affairs, Petey Peterson (pronouns: they, them, theirs), hosted an event in January that sparked enthusiasm across campus.
“We felt the LAUNCH event was a great success,” said Peterson, who joined Wright State last July. “We had a good turnout of about 55-plus people. We had great support from the Office of Communications, President David R. Hopkins, Kimberly Barrett, vice president of multicultural affairs and community engagement, and Rick Danals, director of student activities, and many Wright State faculty, staff and students.”
Having a full-time staff member and an official office space “puts us on the same level as other departments,” said Catalleya Storm (pronouns: they, them, their), the graphic design and marketing coordinator in the Office of LGBTQA Affairs. “Now that there’s someone on the level as other department staff … if students say something, there’s more resources to feel it will actually get done.”
Last year, students formed a taskforce to advocate for more space on campus for the LGBTQA community. Staff endorsements eventually included Hopkins, Barrett and Danals. “I’d also like to thank Student Government, who put in a resolution to accelerate the conversation,” said Josh Scacco, the LGBTQA Affairs graduate assistant.
The university has added a pair of gender-neutral bathrooms in the Student Union located across the Office of LGBTQA Affairs.
“Wright State is a really unique institution,” said Peterson. “We’re midsized, we have a lot of nontraditional-aged students, students with disabilities. There’s such a diverse community here, and I wanted to be part of that.”
They were impressed by the amount of volunteer work and the passion students exemplify to maintain LGBTQA organization and other organizations.
The Community Engagement Room has been at Wright State for five years and Rainbow Alliance, an undergraduate LGBTQA community group started by student volunteers, has been on campus for 25. TAIGA and Boonshoft Pride are newer LGBTQA community groups.
The Office of LGBTQA Affairs joins three other identity-based centers in the Division of Multicultural Affairs and Community Engagement — Bolinga Black Cultural Resources Center, Asian and Native American Center and the Women’s Center.
One way the LGBTQA community is growing is by getting recognized at campus board meetings and by participating in events not only on campus but also in the Greater Dayton area, working with kindergarten through high school-level LGBTQA students.
Peterson and Scacco are also welcoming new student staff positions to round out their staff. From helping students build their leadership skills and consulting with campus offices on LGBTQA-related education, to building LGBTQA health and wellness initiatives and collaborating will each identity center, the Office of LGBTQA Affairs never has a dull moment. In addition, the office staff meet with faculty and staff for gender-based concerns on applications, tailor lesson plans to LGBTQA students and address gender inequity.
“Come visit 011. If you’re unsure or nervous to visit for the first time, this would be a less intimidating first way to contact us, with it just being the two of us (Scacco and Peterson) and maybe later go and hang out in the Community Engagement Room,” Peterson said. “I can go meet you somewhere else on campus. … There’s not one way to access us.”