The Great Plains Affirming Campus Discusses Issues in the LGBTQ Community

The Great Plains Affirming Campus kicks off their first annual conference to discuss issues faced by the LGBTQ community.

The conference, known as GPACC, attracted many across North Dakota to discuss how the LGBTQ community plays a major role in college campuses.

“Student outcomes are directly related to how comfortable and how safe they feel in school. So LGBTQ students have bad educational outcomes, not because they’re not as smart, not because they’re not as capable but because they’re not given the opportunities to succeed. The same opportunities to succeed such as perhaps other people have that are not LGBTQ,” says Co-Conference Coordinator, Darcy Corbitt-Hall.

Speakers touched on problems they go through specifically at NDSU, and how to get around these prolonged issues.

“So a big debate that we’ve had this year is whether or not transgender students should be able to use the bathroom that corresponds with their gender identity. And so there is going to be a focus at today’s conference on discussing policy and how we can make policies that are more affirming,” says Corbitt-Hall.

Organizers explain the efforts that they’ve come up with to help support the cause.

“Dakota Outright is an all–volunteer nonprofit based in Bismarck and we work to improve the lives of LGBTQ people across our region and work with other partners across North Dakota,” says Vice President of Dakota OUTRight, Jennifer Weisgerber.

Dakota Outright is just one of the many programs used to help improve LGBTQ life.

“It’s really meant to equipt anyone who works with youth. Whether you’re an educator, a counselor, or maybe a social worker or youth worker. Really to provide more supportive environments for LGBTQ kids,” says Weisgerber.

Students also explain why this is issue needs to be discussed, and why having proper resources is extremely valuable.

“I mean this is stuff that is not covered in school. This is stuff that its hard for parents to talk about or guardians to talk about. It’s hard for anyone to talk about if you’re not a part of this community,” says NDSU Student, Ray Heiden.

They say they want to highlight ways institutions can be more affirming through dialog and messages towards the LGBTQ community.