GSA hosts Ally Week at UAF

By Chris Hawk

Sun Star Reporter

The Gender and Sexuality Alliance (GSA) hosted 17 events in five days at UAF, participating in a nation-wide event dedicated to engaging in dialogue on LBGTQ issues called Ally Week.

“We’re trying to push trans inclusivity, gender neutral bathrooms, chosen names on polar express cards, etc. small steps,” vice president of GSA Zoey Kohrt said.

UAF Chancellor Brian Rogers spoke at the Ally Celebration on Friday saying he wants UAF to be a welcoming and diverse community and  “Ninety percent of UAF employees have received their mandatory Title IX training,” in less than a year.

The work has been slow going, but Kohrt isn’t discouraged, “If other people see us as being successful it’ll show that diversity is valued at UAF.”

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Students teamed up with the GSA to put on Ally Week, a national youth led effort to empower LGBT students against bullying. Photo by Julia Taylor

The GSA hosted “Queers with Beers” on Wednesday night at the UAF Pub, an opportunity to meet and drink with some of the members of the LGBTQ community and to pledge oneself as an ally.

Allies are people who support the LGBTQ community though not being a part of it themselves,  are a necessary component of the LGBTQ agenda, but it’s not easy to get the support they need even from people sympathetic to their cause, according to Kohrt.

“They may not know they need to be allies,” Kohrt said.

A question and answer session was held on Tuesday as an opportunity for members of the UAF community to ask questions of a panel of LGBTQ community members.

“I felt it was good education not only for outside people but people in the GSA as well,” Kohrt said.

“We went up there knowing we would get every question under the sun”. The turnout, says Kohrt, was excellent. “I was prepared for a lot more than they asked me. I was willing to make it their business.”

Questions included how to talk to someone in she LGBT community without outing them, what the differences between sexuality and gender are, and how to be a better ally. Being a good ally takes talent, such as, “knowing how to ask these questions without offending,” Kohrt said.

The GSA focused on a small portion of UAF’s non-discrimination policy as current non-discrimination policy doesn’t include gender identity and expression.

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