After the Institute for Inclusion and Equity (IIE) recent opening this semester, the space is now hosting a new program by the Rainbow Resource Center (RRC)—LGBTea Time. The RRC hopes that the LGBTea Time will provide students with an open hour to discuss LGBTQ+ current events and news.
The RRC’s student director, Robin Gow, explained that this new program was created as a result of student responses to a survey sent out last semester about LGBT+ life on campus. Gow said that some responses indicated that “students wanted a less structured LGBT+ space…so that’s the catalyst behind the events.”
While the Gender and Sexuality Alliance (GSA) provides an informal student space to hold discussions, the meetings’ topics are already planned. LGBTea Time allows participants to bring their own LGBTQ+ related topics from current news and pop-culture to discuss.
The first LGBTea Time was held on Monday, Jan. 31 from 3-4 p.m. in the IIE. According to Gow, the small discussion ranged from the Women’s March to the tweets of openly gay figure skater Adam Rippon to Chelsea Manning’s campaign for US Senate.
Gow reflected on the event, “I think it’s really important to have events that aren’t lead or directed for the LGBT+ community… [and] to have a fluid space where people can bring topics they want to talk about. Some people brought up articles and we also looked at Huffington Post Queer Voices to see if any other recent news sparked our interest.”
Cyn Ercole, a freshman at Ursinus, enjoyed the first LGBTea Time discussion because “it was more centered on casual peer conversation” so it “[invited] people to share more freely.”
Senior Frozen Belton also “liked that this event was casual, where we could just talk about whatever was happening in the news or in the area concerning queer issues.”
The next LGBTea Time event will be held on Valentine’s Day, Feb. 14 from noon to 1 p.m. in the IIE. Gow encouraged more students interested to attend because there will be Valentine’s Day treats and tea. He encouraged, “if you have something LGBT+ you want to talk about or vent about or just an idea or theory you have, come and talk about it! It’s an open space to chat!”
Later LGBTea Times are not currently scheduled, but Gow plans to host two per month. They won’t be set for a regular time and day in order to provide more flexibility and avoid conflicting with student schedules, but will always be held in the IIE.
For future events, Ercole said, “I would like [LGBTea Time] to be… a space where people could share personal experiences freely in a supportive environment.”
Similarly, Belton stated that “I want to see what topics people bring in. I already know what issues I am focused on in the community. I want to see what others have to say and what news others are focused on.”
According to Gow, the LGBTea Time events were created to promote community building in the new IIE, but the RRC is planning other educational programs this semester, including ally trainings. The RRC also hopes to bring in a speaker to discuss the development of more comprehensive LGBT+ sexual education resources.
Other upcoming events by the RRC in the IIE include a movie screening and discussion with GSA and SUN on black LGBT+ life on Feb. 28 from 5:30 to 7 p.m. and a faculty and staff ally training hosted by the Mazzoni Center on March 1 from 12 to 2 p.m. that faculty can sign up for by emailing Gow at email@example.com. The RRC is also organizing an LGBT+ alumni panel set for later in March.