OUTstanding 2012: A Seminar Exploring LGBTIQ Diversity is the second annual LGBTIQ conference at the University of Tennessee Knoxville!
We are back again and we are working very hard to make sure we are here to stay. The planning committee is working very hard to insure that OUTstanding 2012 follows successfully in it’s 2011 footsteps. We are still here, with the same mission: educating and exploring issues of LGBTIQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, queer and questioning) identity and equality. We are working toward UT’s VOL Vision 2015: to nurture and explore diversity, we hope you will join us (again or for the first time!).
With the repeal of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell,” additional states such as New York and Washington embracing marriage equality, recent highlights of gay, bisexual, and transgender teen bullying and suicides, attention to LGBTIQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, queer and questioning) issues has become more crucial than ever. Meanwhile, with the establishment of the Commission for LGBT People in 2006, the OUTreach LGBT & Ally Resource Center in 2010, and the implementation of the Spousal and Domestic Partner Hiring Program, LGBTIQ visibility is becoming prominent in a way never before seen at the University of Tennessee.
The OUTstanding Planning Committee are an interdisciplinary group of students, staff and faculty from across the university who have banded together to explore the visibility of diversity and LGBTIQ cultural issues in order to create campus-wide discussion, education, exploration and celebration of intersectional diversity of the community on campus and in general society. To do this, we have attempted to create a space where individuals and groups from UT, Knoxville, and the surrounding region, along with nationally recognized speakers and participants, can explore, celebrate, and facilitate discussions and networking surrounding these important issues. Feedback from the campus community has been sought through the use of focus groups attended by students, faculty and staff, with the intent of providing the most intellectually enriching and accessible experience to a broad set of attendees. The seminar themes and issues will be in the form of keynote addresses, presentations, workshops, panels, scholar forums, and inspiring entertainment from LGBTIQ artists. Presenters and participants alike will come from diverse backgrounds and bring creative and intersecting opinions, views, and issues to the table. Such issues for discussion include but are not limited to gender expression, class issues, race issues and ethnic LGBTIQ diversity, religion and community, disability within the community, campus environment, local history, and a special focus on how to foster continuing celebration and advocation of LGBTIQ rights and more.
The OUTstanding seminar has support and encouragement from the, LGBT Commission, Dean of Students, Student Affairs, the Feminist Action Collective, the Masters of Science in Social Work Organization, and several faculty and student organizations from multiple departments across campus. The support of groups, organizations, businesses, and individuals is growing every day.
One of the main goals of the seminar will be to encourage ongoing advocacy and engagement of students, faculty, and staff in LGBTIQ cultural issues. Attendees will gain insight and understanding of the LGBTIQ culture as stereotypes are broken down and the effects of discrimination are made clear. LGBTIQ attendees will have an opportunity to see the support available as well as become more knowledgeable about the history of struggles within their own culture. This seminar will explain terminology associated with the gender queer community and attendees will gain confidence in communicating about LGBTIQ issues. We strive to bring awareness to the difficulties in maneuvering social constructs of gender and breaking down stereotypes and displaying individuality and diversity under the LGBTIQ umbrella. Ultimately, we hope OUTstanding contributes quality, meaningful, and exceptional work towards a compassionate future for The University of Tennessee and other campuses, Knoxville and other communities, and the nation and beyond.