LGBT Faculty and Staff, and Community Allies Networking Event Planned Oct. 1

LOC-AcademicCAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo., Sept. 22, 2015­ ­– The Office of Institutional Equity and Diversity at Southeast Missouri State University has planned an off-campus LGBT and allies networking event for Southeast LGBT faculty and staff and community allies on Thursday, Oct. 1, from 5-7 p.m. at Cup n’ Cork Coffee House, 11 S. Spanish in downtown Cape Girardeau.

The Office of Institutional Equity and Diversity is working with faculty and staff on campus to plan and initiate activities geared to support, engage and recognize faculty and staff at Southeast that identify as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT), said Sonia Rucker, coordinator of Institutional Equity and Diversity.

Just as Southeast students need to be in environments and communities which are open and inclusive, faculty and staff benefit from this type of inclusive environment as well, Rucker said. For LGBT faculty and staff, just like any other underrepresented population, feeling a level of comfort, respect and inclusiveness is very important, she said.

“People are at their best when they can be authentically engaged in the community without fear of being judged or excluded,” Rucker said. “This event is a way for those Southeast faculty and staff that identify as LGBT or those in the community who want to show support as allies, to meet, socialize and network.”

Dr. Kirsten LaMantia, assistant professor and clinic coordinator in the Department of Educational Leadership and Counseling at Southeast, says she welcomes the upcoming networking event.

“As a gay woman and newcomer to the Cape Girardeau area, I am looking for a sense of community, acceptance and safety,” said. “It can be difficult to ascertain community groups in which I might be accepted without having knowledge of the area and its sociopolitical beliefs. “Southeast Missouri State University has been a visible beacon of safety for me due to openly kind and allied faculty,” she continued. “An event like this gives LGBT+ folks and their allies a clear opportunity to continue to build a sense of community and support for people who may otherwise feel alone, ostracized, fearful and oppressed.”

She says a continued effort to include and accept LGBT+ faculty will set a precedent for campus staff, students and community members to foster a safe environment for all people.

“SEMO’s campaign states ‘The Will to Do.’ With systemic support, the faculty of SEMO can continue to inspire the will to feel safe and accepted,” LaMantia said.

Dr. Diane Wood, Southeast professor of biology, added, “Recognizing that there is an LGBT community on campus is important, but we should view this more holistically in that Southeast is working towards acknowledging all the various groups of people that make up the Southeast community.”

For more information contact Office of Institutional Equity and Diversity, at (573) 651-2524 or equityissues@semo.edu.