KIC continues Sex Week with ally training

Samantha Karam

Continuing with Kent Interhall Council’s annual Sex Week, the LGBTQ Student Center offered a safe space and ally training on Thursday night in Kent Hall.

Silence fell over the classroom as Ken Ditlevson, the director of the LGBTQ Student Center, told a story of the unacknowledged discrimination he faced while just trying to get in and out of the post office.

“No one said anything,” Ditlevson said, when recalling asking the clerk a question. His question held up the line, and a man at the back of the line referred to Ditlevson with a slur, telling him to get out of the building.

He described the fear he felt toward the man and the isolation that followed when no one spoke up to defend him.

This story is one of the many Ditlevson used to explain why being an ally is so important.

“When we talk about being an ally, it’s not about wearing a (rainbow) bracelet, Ditlevson said. “It’s about intervening.”

He added that it’s crucial to step up when one sees injustice or discrimination directed toward a person for their gender identity or sexual orientation.

George Papp McClellan, president of Kent Interhall Council, said he hopes this session “gives people a basic understanding and giving skills in how to be effective ally.”

Ditlevson continued to share multiple personal stories to guide his audience through the various factors that tie into being an ally.

He went on to identify the elements of the LGBTQ acronym.

“People generally know a lot about the ‘l’ ‘g’ and ‘b’ in ‘LGBTQ,’” Papp McClellan said. “This training is also stepping onto the ‘t’ (and) ‘q’ in the community.”

Ditlevson went beyond the acronym and discussed the history of the various identities while providing preferred, progressive terms to identify LGBTQ identifiers with.

He explained the differences between sex and gender, gender identity and gender expression, and explained what sexual orientation is. His presentation also consisted of what not to say to a member of the LGBT community: terms and questions to avoid.

Papp McClellan said Ditlevson broke down the complex issues in a way that made them easy for everyone to understand.

Jessica Hunter, a freshman exploratory major, said she benefited from the event’s topics and discussions.

“I’m so happy that this was a thing because you got the chance to learn a lot and be able to support people,” Hunter said. “There are so many different people in this world (and I believe) people are great because we’re different.”

Samantha Karam is a diversity reporter, contact her at [email protected]