The coordinator of the Straight Talk program asked everyone in attendance to stand up.
As everyone was standing, Straight Talk panel members read off a list of descriptions and asked members of the audience to sit if he or she identified with one.
“Sit down if you’re a woman who plays sports aggressively,” said Jenny Shipley (senior- mechanical engineering).
The descriptions continued, including qualities such as men who enjoy musicals, women who don’t wear make up, and if a person hadn’t dated a member of his or her opposite sex in the past six months.
The purpose of the exercise was to show that anyone could be a victim of an LGBTA hate crime, coordinator Brianna Serrano said.
Straight Talks takes place every semester and is meant to educate students about the LGBTA community, Serrano said. She explained that research shows programs like the one that took place in the HUB-Robeson Center Auditorium last night help create a safe environment and help reduce hate crimes for the LGBTA community.
Each story told by members of the panel that included Shipley, Joe Charette, Frank Chumbiray, Christina Litas and Arielle Brown had a common theme: acceptance. The members of the panel who were gay, bisexual, lesbian and transgender said there was at least one person in their lives who accepted them.
Shipley came out to her parents in high school, and although they were upset and concerned at first, her mother now speaks on Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays panels.
Shipely explained that she sees gender as a spectrum with “lots of shades of gray.” She dresses masculine, and said that there are times where she will be in the women’s restroom and people will ask her to leave, believing she is a man. She described it as female society saying she doesn’t belong, but she hopes to one day “establish the gray.”
Charette (junior-psychology) said the first member of his “right-wing, Christian, military” family he told was his sister, who responded that they all had been waiting for him to come out.
Chumbiray (senior-toxicology) explained his struggles with bisexuality and explained that he believes in pan-sexuality, that there’s more to a person than what parts he or she has.
Litas (senior-economics and engineering) was born biologically male, but when she was three knew her gender was female. Although she has been through many hardships as a transgender person, she said she is not bitter because she believes people can change.
Brown (senior-visual communications) said she has “always had someone gay” in her life, and until she came to Penn State she didn’t know about the “A” in LGBTA. She now promotes the Ally message.
The program continued with a question continued with a question and answer session where one member asked how to respond when a person uses a slur against this community.
Shipley answered and said that sometimes a person may have to be a little aggressive about it. She said t hat a person doesn’t need an excuse to defend a community.
The LGTBA Resource center is located in 101 Boucke. Students can email the Support Network at LGBTA@psu.edu.