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Informing the  Berea and Baldwin Wallace University Communities Since 1913

The Exponent

Informing the  Berea and Baldwin Wallace University Communities Since 1913

The Exponent

Informing the  Berea and Baldwin Wallace University Communities Since 1913

The Exponent

Pride at BW increases visibility of students, faculty in LGBTQ+ community

National Coming Out Day ushers in LGBTQ+ community partners to campus.
Meredith McCord
A YJ4L pride poster.

Baldwin Wallace University’s Center for Inclusion hosted Pride at BW, an event to help celebrate students and faculty members identifying with the LGBTQ+ community on Oct. 11, National Coming Out Day.  

Despite past events that have taken place on BW’s campus to celebrate the LGBTQ+ community, this is the first year that Pride at BW was hosted. Ana De Freitas Boe, BW’s Coordinator of LGBTQ+ said that the event was designed with the intention of increasing visibility.  

“This is a campus wide celebration of LGBTQ+ people, and it was really the idea of Dr. Randi Congleton, the new chief diversity and inclusion officer, she wanted to create a sort of signature event that really helps create LGBTQ+ visibility on campus,” Boe said.  

Boe said there is good reason to believe that about 20% to 30% of BW students identify as LGBTQIA+. 

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“To have those students and faculty members feel seen and celebrated, that’s what this event is about,” Boe said.   

While this event celebrated students and faculty members, different organizations including Equality Ohio, Out Support, Colors+ and PFLAG attended the event as well.   

These organizations are spread across the Cleveland area and help provide education and resources to the LGBTQ+ community as well as allies to the community. Jena Parks, co-president of BW’s LGBTQ+ student group, Allies, said that some members might have heard about these organizations for the first time through Pride at BW.  

“Having those community partners there was, I think, so important just to see that you have resources in Cleveland that you might not know about,” Parks said.    

 Pride at BW is different from other pride events that have taken place on campus being that this event took place not during June’s Pride month, but rather, during October. This let room for an event to take place during LGBTQ+ History month, October said Ellen Posman, Center for Inclusion Heritage Month Committee member.  

“We wanted to have a Pride event, but it made it really difficult to schedule something in June because students aren’t here, so we decided on October because October is LGBTQ+ history month,” Posman said.    

Even though students are not here in June to celebrate Pride month on campus, there are organizations on campus that support and celebrate LGBTQ+ students throughout the academic year for students to utilize.   

Although Allies was not a direct partner with Pride at BW, they are an on-campus resources that students identifying with the LGBTQ+ community can be involved with. Parks said that while they do some education and outreach programs, their main focus is building a sense of community where members can have fun.  

“We try to foster a community for LGBTQ+ people at BW and our allies, because everyone deserves a place where they feel like they are represented, and they are welcome and wanted here,” Parks said.  

Allies plans to take part in other events for members of the LGBTQ+ community later in the year such as Pride Prom and the Lavender Graduation Ceremony.   

Despite the positivity that came from this event, BW still has work to do to make campus more inclusive, Boe said.  

“It doesn’t mean that there aren’t little places where someone faces a microaggression or somebody gets misgendered, we have work to do, we definitely as a community are not perfect, we are a work in progress, but when I arrived at BW in 2004 it was not as inclusive as it is today,” Boe said. “And I feel like the longer I’m here, the more it really does become a place where LGBTQ+ [people] can be their full selves.” 

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