Will be located in new student center
LEXINGTON, Ky. (Aug. 24, 2015) — The University of Kentucky Office of Institutional Diversity has established the Office of LGBTQ* (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer.) The asterisk has become a commonplace way to reflect that gender identities and sexual orientations exist beyond the acronym.
The office will host a number of events for students, staff, faculty and the community this fall. A panel discussion of the Matthew Shepard/James Byrd, Jr., Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009 is scheduled for noon on Thursday in the William T. Young Library UK Athletics Auditorium. On Oct. 6 Kristen Beck, a trans* Navy Seal, will describe her transition and her current advocacy focus. Also in October, an expert panel is being developed by Gender and Women’s Studies to focus on the word “queer.”
“For the last 10 or 15 years, offices similar to this one have popped up, especially in leading institutions,” said Lance Poston, director of the office. “I think the university has, for the last several years, had a reevaluation of what it means to be a diverse and inclusive space.”
In response to this reevaluation, Poston is developing a pilot program, SafeZone, to facilitate community awareness of the basic competencies relating to LGBTQ* experiences. SafeZone will provide a regular educational workshop throughout the spring 2016 term.
Originally from South Carolina, Poston attended South Carolina Presbyterian College for his undergraduate studies, with a primary focus on history and English. He finished his master’s degree in LGBT history at Ohio University. Poston also founded the university’s annual LGBTQ* history month lecture and co-founded a regional career studies conference in Ohio.
“A lot of the themes that I’m working with in everyday experiences in this job are things that I’ve read about, written about, and for the last two years taught about,” he said. “I see this all as a culmination of things that interest me, that I’m passionate about, and that I think are important to talk about and work on.”
UK’s LGBTQ* Resources Office is the fourth such center in Kentucky.
Poston said he hopes the office’s impact will serve all students, faculty and staff on campus by creating safe places for important conversations about sex, sexuality and gender identity to take place.
“Whether they are coming out spaces, social spaces for LGBTQ* folks, spaces for cultivating allies, or spaces for simply finding a middle ground of mutual respect, having these areas for dialogue is my main goal,” Poston said.
The office, located temporarily in 302 Blazer Hall, will include an additional meeting space for students to use at their leisure. When construction is completed, the office will be located in the new student center. Poston has also opened an extension office in H Pavilion at Chandler Hopspital to support medical students and professionals within UK HealthCare. He is in that office every Friday.