KSU psychologist discusses minority identities with students

Katherine Schaeffer

Karla Anhalt, while speaking to students, said minority identities often overlap.

Anhalt, associate professor of lifespan development and education sciences, discussed multiple minority identities from a psychological perspective and shared her personal experiences as part of the Soup and Substance speaker series in the Student Multicultural Center. Soup and Substance, with lunch provided during the lecture, is held twice a month.

Anhalt said the study of multiple minority identities is fairly new within the field of psychology. Psychologists study the way individuals view themselves, she said, as well as how having multiple minority identities impacts individuals’ adjustment and mental health.

“Initially, when diversity issues entered the field, the focus was on race and ethnicity,” Anhalt said “… But more and more the textbooks that cover these issues have expanded to include issues like gender, sexual orientation, a little more gender identity, refugee populations and religious minorities.”

Anhalt’s interactive lecture included both a self-reflection activity and a discussion portion. She asked audience members to write down which aspects of their identity they found most important. Volunteers shared their answers, which ranged from race, religion and sexual orientation to family and community roles.

“There’s still this notion … that people may just identify with one aspect of their identities,” Anhalt said. “… More and more we’re working on not looking at identities in this compartmentalized fashion.”

In the final portion of the event, Anhalt invited the audience to ask questions and share experiences in an open discussion. People opened up about their experiences and observations as members of ethnic, racial and LGBTQ minorities.

“When there’s a ‘me’ and a ‘them,’ it’s easier to keep that distance,” Anhalt said. “When you start talking to people and finding out more about them, you learn about the complexity of being an individual, and what it really to embrace diversity issues and what it really means to embrace equality.”

Contact Katherine Schaeffer at [email protected].