Participants of the Passport for the 21st Century leadership program were treated to a unique workshop hosted by UCI’s Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Resource Center, or LGBTRC, last Wednesday at the Cross-Cultural Center.
The LGBTRC holds the workshop annually under the umbrella of the Passport program, issued by the Office of the Dean of Students to encourage potential student leaders to attend a series of developmental workshops throughout the academic year.
The LGBTRC workshop, designed to help participants better understand important issues surrounding homosexuality, bisexuality and transgenderism, was one of many workshops students could choose from in the Passport program.
‘This workshop was designed to help student leaders to understand what the impact of LGBT bias is like on campus life,’ said Pat Walsh, director of the LGBTRC.
Some LGBT students on campus may experience difficulties due to the fear of being treated differently.
‘This apprehension may cause them to not participate in campus activities or use campus resources,’ Walsh said. ‘It can lower the quality of opportunities on campus.’
The workshop targets the aspiring leaders of UCI so they may provide some support for LGBT students, who benefit from having allies from different peer groups.
‘This seminar was helpful because I never thought about how difficult it could be for some of the LGBT students on campus,’ said first year, undecided/undeclared student Liam Reay.
Reay is just one of many students participating in the Passport program, which provides a variety of seminars focusing on contemporary management and leadership issues. Students are required to attend at least seven workshops, whose topics range from management to communication and diversity. All students completing the requirements are honored at an awards ceremony in the spring and awarded the UCI Leadership Certificate.
‘The program is good for me because it allows me to interact with people other than my everyday friends,’ said first year, undecided/undeclared student Samar Breik. ‘I like hearing other points of view because it helps me grow as a person.’
The LGBTRC workshop started off with this type of interaction, where participants formed two lines and discussed several important LGBT issues with different partners. The discussion expanded to include the entire room, where every student’s individual opinion and personal experiences were heard.
Members of the panel from the LGBTRC spoke out about their own experiences and answered any questions students had about the coming out process, acceptance and tolerance from peers, and coping with the difficulties associated with being LGBT.
‘We want you to understand that people you will come across do come from different backgrounds.’ Walsh said during the seminar, ‘This is just a part of the leadership role.’
The consensus of the room seemed to carry an air of interest among the participants, who felt that the workshop as a whole was an important and valuable experience.
‘This workshop in particular was one of the most important ones that I attended because I will probably come across some of the problems we discussed in the work environment,’ Reay said. ‘It will have more of an effect on my views later in life than some of the other workshops.’
The LGBTRC is happy to be of help to students of all sexual backgrounds in any way they can.
Their office has information brochures on an array of topics ranging from sexually transmitted diseases and interviewing techniques for the LGBT community. Students are encouraged to make the most of the resources the center offers.
‘When I first came to UCI I wanted to leave because I didn’t feel it was an open or welcoming environment,’ said Andrea Lacy, a second-year comparative literature major and peer counselor at the LGBTRC. ‘But since I’ve been coming out the resource center, I love it here at UCI and I don’t want to leave. It completely changed my college experience.’
The LGBTRC workshop accompanies other programs such as Public Speaking 101 and Creating Change in the Passport to the 21st Century leadership program.
The program is an eye-opening opportunity for students who can go to these workshops which they would otherwise not have been aware of.