On Valentine’s day weekend, a group of six University of Kansas students went to the Midwest Bisexual Lesbian Gay Transgender Asexual College Conference to learn about queer and trans identity. The students then worked on how to transform those concepts into leadership skills.
The conference was held at Western Michigan University for any students across the Midwest, and this year had over 2,000 students attend. In its 27th year, the theme was 'Envisioning a Future Together,' which focused on creating a community of inclusion on campuses.
According to the conference’s website, the MBLGTACC is planned and organized entirely by students and was created to connect, educate and empower other queer students throughout the region.
Paddy Qiu, a freshman from Hutchinson said the conference enables queer people to better understand themselves and others.
“It’s just two days of workshops where we get to learn about and expand upon our knowledge of queer identity and go past what we already know as queer people right now,” Qiu said.
Each day had several different workshops and presentations that students attended. The topics of each session varied depending on what the students wanted to participate in.
Manda said she went to a workshop called 'Queer and Trans People of Color,' which focused on helping more people into “queer spaces.”
“[They talked about] how we could implement more ways to include people of color in queer spaces because it can be really white dominant at times,” Manda said.
Manda said one of the other goals of the conference was to have students learn about real world topics and figure out how to apply them on campus. She said she could apply what she learned from the workshop to oSTEM, a club for LGBTQ students in STEM fields.
“I’m the only Indian person in oSTEM, and you can imagine with these engineers and medical people there would be more Indians, but I think I’m the only Indian in it right now,” Manda said. “In a lot of places, it’s just predominantly white people.”
University Housing sponsored the trip and provided transportation for students who attended the conference.
“Having MBLGTACC facilitate learning more about queer identity outside our scope just allows us to apply this into the organizations we are going to be working with later,” Qiu said.