Pictured (L-R): Bank of the West Asst. Branch Manager, Jonathon Pogge-Weaver (He/Him); DMACC English Professor, Bethany Sweeney (She/Her); and DMACC Student, Taylor Sturm (They/Them) and Garrett Shirbroun (He/Him).
The Des Moines Area Community College (DMACC) Carroll Campus hosted its second seminar in their We Include series Wednesday afternoon with a focus on LGBTQ+ inclusivity. Dr. Mindy Graham-Hinners, a psychology professor at DMACC, facilitated the hour-long session and explained LGBTQ+ is a broad term used to describe individuals who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning and beyond. Graham-Hinners says people often misunderstand the phrase and it is almost always in flux.
Graham-Hinners referred to several studies that showed the feeling of belonging is a human need and a lack of it potentially leads to harmful consequences, such as depression. This effect is strongly reflected in the LGBTQ+ community.
Graham-Hinners says these numbers are even more alarming when compared to rates seen in the general population, which is 4.6 percent. A panel of four LGBTQ+ individuals, Dr. Bethany Sweeny, Jonathon Pogge-Weaver, Garrett Shirbroun and Taylor Sturm, then took questions from attendees. One of the first questions asked for simple things to do to help LGTBQ+ individuals feel more welcome. Sturm, who uses the pronouns they/them, is a demigender, non-binary, transgender male student, which means they have a partial connection to a certain gender and is living as the sex not assigned to them at birth. They say the first step is to stop assuming you know things about another person.
Pogge-Weaver, who is the parent of a daughter with two dads, says inclusivity is far more than verbal interactions.
He adds society has come a long way in the last 40 years, but there is still room to grow. Full audio from the We Include seminar can be found included with this story on our website.