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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

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Feven Getachew
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Grinnelians invade MBLGTACC in Madison, Wis.

By Eliza-Eve Leas

Last weekend, almost 30 Grinnellians attended the Midwest Bisexual Lesbian Gay Transgender Ally College Conference (MBGLTACC) in Madison, Wis. to discuss sexuality, gender and queer issues.

“I really hoped to go to MBLGTACC and further leadership experiences, learn about new outlooks, get workshop information…and bring that back to campus and implement some of the things that I learned,” Nik Jameson ’11 said.

Others were excited to have the chance to interact with a large number of queer students from all over the Midwest.
“I really wanted to go to an event where I got to meet lots of other queer people,” a student who wished to remain anonymous said.

Grinnellians attended workshops such as “Bi-Curious?”, “The Idiot’s Guide to Asexuality” and “Gender Queer 101.” During these workshops, they met queer students and found out more about life on campuses across the Midwest.

“I wanted to learn more about where gay rights were in undergraduate institutions,” Jon Richardson ’10 said.
It seemed like Grinnell does pretty well by its queer students compared to other institutions.

“We’re very lucky to have a lot of resources and a lot of knowledge. It was really interesting to see people from other schools and get a feel of where they are at with their programs…it made me realize how lucky we are,” Elliot Karl ’12 said. “We have a greater knowledge and vocabulary to be able to talk about these issues more specifically.”

Quite a few students voiced a desire to help other campuses to reach the same level, but simultaneously noted that a lot of the workshops designed to aid this process were superficial.

“They could have done a better job making the sessions a little more advanced for people who are more well-versed in queer issues already,” Richardson said.

According to several students at the conference, the conference lacked nuanced explanations and understandings of complex issues, especially those related to trans people and queer people of color.

According to one student, the QPOC caucus also voiced complaints of being tokenized throughout the conference, a problem that spilled over from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

The issues students found at MBLGTACC, and what they learned about other campuses, sparked greater interest in working to change things. Jameson mentioned bringing back Bifocal, a bisexual student group on campus, and increasing discussions about sexualities outside of homosexual and heterosexual, such as pan- or asexual.

“A lot of the first and second years will carry these issues forward after getting inspired to work and advocate for queer people,” Richardson said.

Karl was definitely inspired.

“It made me more passionate about these issues,” he said.

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