ICIE hosts LGBTQ+ Faculty Dinner for an evening of discussion

Abigail Salzhauer, Staff Writer

Faculty and staff from across the divisions gathered at an off-campus restaurant for an evening of discussion and community at the LGBTQ+ Faculty Dinner.

The dinner served as an affinity space for faculty and staff who attend as well as an opportunity to connect and share experiences, Office for Identity, Culture and Institutional Equity (ICIE) Associate Sharina Gordon said.

The dinner took place over the course of three hours; the first hour was mostly social and the rest of the time was spent engaging in some sort of activity, survey, or discussion, Gordon said.

This year, the group participated in “an icebreaker activity to get folks grounded and reflective on how the school year has gone so far for them,” Gordon said.

Later, participants broke into smaller groups to discuss support systems for LGBTQ+ faculty and staff in order to increase their visibility and professional development opportunities, she said.

“These topics and more are important for LGBTQ+ people because historically and currently LGBTQ+ folks have been denied equitable access to resources and opportunities. Having an affinity space is crucial to building community and channeling our voices to create change,” Gordon said.

In addition, the ICIE staff checked in with faculty about issues discussed at prior events to see if any progress has been made, she said.

The ICIE holds events for both LGBTQ+ faculty and faculty of color twice a year, typically once in the fall and again in the spring, Gordon said. However, the office is looking for more opportunities to gather faculty and staff in a similar setting throughout the year.

“Especially for new faculty, the event is a great way for folks to connect across the divisions and get to know each other better,” Gordon said.

“Ultimately, we discuss how people are feeling as LGBTQ+ people in the world in a social political context,” co-Director of the ICIE John Gentile said. “I think it’s an important question to ask and reflect on so folks can be present, fully available, and open as educators and community members,” he said.

According to Gentile, the conversations and work completed at such events “make people better at their job and better at their ability to be present and be ready to do what they need to do to be the best educators they can be both in and outside the classroom,” he said.

The event gives a space for faculty to discuss any issues that have come up either in or out of school, Gordon said.

“These events give opportunities for adults to do some of their own self work to be better community members, and having the time to do that is really important and necessary for the collective experience of the Horace Mann community,” Gentile said.

“It makes us all better equipped to show up and be whole and maintain our humanity, which is important for us to re-up on every once in a while,” he said.