LGBTQ+ Center celebrates 10-year anniversary, welcomes new assistant director

The Kent State LGBTQ+ Student Center is located in the lower level of the Kent Student Center and provides educational events and programs aimed at creating an inclusive environment on campus.

Cameron Aloway Reporter

As the LGBTQ+ Center celebrates its 10-year anniversary, it also welcomes a new assistant director and new ideas to make impactful changes to the Kent State community.

“I’m very glad to be here for the anniversary,” said Ken Ditlevson, the director of the LGBTQ+ Center.

Launching on February 14th until the end of the calendar year, the LGBTQ+ Center will have a range of different events and celebrations.

The LGBTQ+ Center kicked off its campaign with a collaboration with the Wick Poetry Center on Valentine’s Day. The event, shared virtually through the LGBTQ+ Center’s social media, spotlights poems from LGBTQ+ individuals tackling LGBTQ+ specific themes of love and pride. 

“Everything that you will see with our campaign will be a mix of virtual programming, collaboration with partners all across campus and also a fundraising campaign,” said Ditlevson.

Throughout the year, the LGBTQ+ Center will be working with Career Services, LaunchNet and the Women’s Center while recognizing major LGBTQ+ holidays including Pride Month in June and LGBT History Month in October.

As a tie-in with the 10th anniversary, the LGBTQ+ Center will also be launching the “10 Ways to Get Involved” campaign. Ideas include becoming involved with the Quest Mentorship Program, which focuses on career exploration for undergraduate students, or volunteering at events such as the annual Rainbow Run, which helps contribute funding to the LGBTQ Emergency Fund.

Not only will the LGBTQ+ Center be celebrating its 10-year anniversary, but it will also be introducing its new assistant director, Lo Denmon.

Lo Denmon is a University of West Georgia alum who is no stranger to advocating for LGBTQ+ causes. They created accessible programs in a predominantly conservative area while tackling conversations that delve into intersectionality, including race and religion. 

“During my undergrad, I would provide resources to students on campus who were also a part of the LGBTQ+ community,” said Denmon. “Mainly because they weren’t a lot of places to obtain those resources at the time.” 

Lo, who had previously worked in the University of West Georgia’s Center for Diversity and Inclusion, will be overseeing the Quest Mentorship Program and the LGBTQ+ Living-Learning Community for residents living on-campus.

As for adjusting to the Kent State community, Lo is still adapting to the new position at the center.

“I’m not used to the snow at Kent,” said the Georgian native. “But I am really loving it here so far. I had really great conversations with students and I’m really impressed by the thoughtfulness of the student population.”

“I am so thankful that we’ve hired them in this capacity,” said Ditlevson. “They come with a lot of experience from a similar center like ours.”

The LGBTQ+ Center celebrated its opening back on March 11, 2010, and it is currently located in the lower level of the Student Center.

Since its development, the LGBTQ+ Center has made a strong impact on the Kent State community, continuously being an advocate for LGBTQ+ identifying students and even helping to contribute to making the campus one of the nation’s most LGBTQ-friendly universities.

“I feel like our center helps draw LGBTQ+ and questioning students to Kent State,” said Ditlevson. “I feel that Kent State attracts a lot of diversity because of its reputation of being supportive of marginalized communities.”

However, the director of the center remained adamant that the center will not stop pushing for more change on Kent’s campus. One policy that Ken is passionate about is normalizing the usage of pronouns. 

“Hopefully, we see pronoun usage not only when a student applies, but also in class rosters, in the residence halls and student employment,” said Ditlveson.

Another major change the LGBTQ+ Center is in the process of working on is offering more specific health needs for the transgender population like hormone replacement therapy at the DeWeese Health Center.

“There’s a lot of capacity for growth in this space. I plan to see and make that change happen,” Denmon said.

The LGBTQ+ Center will also be using #KentStateLGBTQ10 on social media to help keep its followers connected to upcoming events associated with the celebration.

To stay connected about the 10-year anniversary and upcoming events from the LGBTQ+ Center, follow its social media channels on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and through its website.

Cameron Aloway covers diversity. Contact him at [email protected].