More than 100 staff, faculty and students gathered June 29 at the Cal State LA University Club for a Pride Month event celebrating the LGBTQIA+ community.
The celebration was the first campuswide Pride event at the university and was hosted by the Staff Working Group on Belonging, Community, and Diversity.
Pride Month is a time when the nation acknowledges and celebrates the resilience of the LGBTQIA+ community in its struggle for equality and freedom. The month also commemorates the 1969 Stonewall Uprising, when a police raid of the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in New York, resulted in six days of clashes between protestors and police, and marked the beginning of a movement that has changed the course of history.
During the event, Cal State LA Provost Amy Bippus shared her experience coming out in college in Northern Pennsylvania, reflecting on how scared she was then, how far the LGTBQIA+ community has come and the challenges that still remain across the nation.
“Sometimes it seems like we take one step forward and two steps back, and we’re reminded of how fragile progress can be,” Bippus said. “Right now, in particular, the trans folks in our community are really under siege. It makes me realize how important events like these are. Having this celebration, where we come together and show our love, show our support for folks, it really does my heart a lot of good to see you all here.”
The celebration featured keynote remarks from Allison Mattheis, associate professor in the College of Education, who shared highlights and challenges from her 10 years at Cal State LA as a queer faculty member.
Mattheis also discussed her latest research, supported by a Cal State LA Provost Faculty Fellows Award, which aims to develop support for K-6 teachers to expand their teaching of health and well-being in a way that is inclusive of all genders and sexualities.
“After decades of measurable progress toward protection and acknowledgement of LGBTQIA+ students, faculty, and staff in U.S. public schools, organized resistance against critical perspectives, including those that promote queer and trans inclusion, is currently spreading across the country,” Mattheis said. “At the same time that schools are more likely than ever before to enroll openly transgender or gender expansive students, anti-trans legislation has been proposed or passed in over 23 states during the last year alone.”
“It is imperative that new elementary level teachers be prepared to navigate the complex and changing conditions for queer and trans students in schools,” Mattheis added.
At the event, students, faculty and staff participated in a self-guided educational tour about the LGBTQIA+ community, exploring topics such as the Kinsey Scale, which is used to describe a person’s sexual orientation based on a spectrum, how to be an ally, and suggested literature and films to delve deeper into learning about, connecting with and supporting the LGBTQIA+ community.
Attendees also decorated Cal State LA swag with bright colors in honor of Pride, grabbed colorful Pride buttons, and enjoyed treats from a local ice dessert vendor.
Cal State LA President William A. Covino thanked the Staff Working Group for hosting the event, led by co-chairs Turi Daoust, director of change management and strategic initiatives, and Isis Stansberry, associate dean of students.
The group formed last year following the California State University’s Inaugural Juneteenth Symposium and develops programs and initiatives in support of the university’s diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging efforts in collaboration with the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.
“We’re looking at our nation and our communities today with an eye toward the future,” Covino said. “As we celebrate, we affirm our support for the LGBTQ community in its struggle for equality and the right to live authentic lives.”
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California State University, Los Angeles is the premier comprehensive public university in the heart of Los Angeles. Cal State LA is ranked number one in the United States for the upward mobility of its students. Cal State LA is dedicated to engagement, service, and the public good, offering nationally recognized programs in science, the arts, business, criminal justice, engineering, nursing, education, and the humanities. Founded in 1947, the University serves more than 26,000 students and has more than 250,000 distinguished alumni.
Cal State LA is home to the critically-acclaimed Luckman Fine Arts Complex, Pat Brown Institute for Public Affairs, Hertzberg-Davis Forensic Science Center, Hydrogen Research and Fueling Facility, Billie Jean King Sports Complex and the TV, Film and Media Center. For more information, visit www.CalStateLA.edu.