Instituting Equality: LGBT in Politics, Religion, and Education
UN Globe focuses on gender parity to create environment where queer identities can be discussed
Only 264 of the 3,198 four-year universities and community colleges in the U.S. have LGBTQ centers or services, according to Griffin
Rev. Young said the Episcopal faith allows for non-binary identities in sexuality and gender
Panelists remained optimistic about the future of LGBTQ rights
On Nov. 29, the International Relations Society, Facilitate Equity, and NYU College Democrats came together to present Instituting Equality: LGBTQ in Politics, Religion, and Education. Speakers included Christopher Griffin, Assistant Director for NYU Student Activities and Engagement, Alfonso Nam, President of UN Globe, and Reverend Mary Cat Young, NYU’s Senior Chaplain Affiliate. The panel discussion concerned the state of LGBTQ rights in politics, religion, and education domestically and internationally.
The panelists were asked about their institutions’ interactions with queer identities. Nam noted that identity is complex, and in many UN nations, messaging which frames identity as a social construct is not helpful. For this reason, much of UN Globe’s work focuses on pushing the LGBTQ discussion in member countries. To create an environment where queer identities can be discussed, UN Globe pays special focus to gender parity, as gender heavily influences LGBTQ identity.
Griffin, speaking from the world of higher education, mentioned that only 264 of the 3,198 four-year universities and community colleges in the U.S. have LGBTQ centers or services. College simultaneously serves as a place where LGBTQ identity is explored and challenging to LGBTQ individuals. Griffin claims that LGBTQ centers can help counsel students through that process.
Rev. Young said the Episcopal faith has always been predisposed to accepting queer identity and expression. In 2003, the Episcopal Church welcomed its first openly gay bishop. In terms of theology, Young said the Episcopal faith allows for non-binary identities in sexuality and gender.
The international state of LGBTQ rights can oftentimes seem to develop in varying directions, given the recent overturn of a ban on gay sex in India, anti-gay purges in Chechnya, and the increase in LGBTQ congressmen after the 2018 midterm. But the panel remained optimistic about the future of LGBTQ rights. According to Nam, local LGBTQ activism has increased in areas where abuse and anti-queer laws persist. Griffin stressed the importance and effectiveness of social media activism in connecting people in the LGBTQ community.
This report was compiled by Danny Hegberg on Dec. 4, 2018, and edited by Jamin Chen.