LBGT issues addressed in Koonce Hall

Josh Echt

“That’s so gay.”

That term is so degrading, said junior zoology major Shawn Szymecki.

Szymecki, PRIDE!Kent vice-president-elect and secretary, said that particular phrase tossed around in society represents an injustice to the LGBT community.

“You’re equating gay people with stupidity,” he said.

More than 20 students participated in an informal discussion surrounding LGBT issues yesterday evening in Koonce Hall.

The panel was sponsored by the Speaker’s Bureau, which provides opportunities for students to discuss issues with various groups on campus. Although PRIDE!Kent members were in attendance, the event was not sponsored by PRIDE, President Christopher Taylor said.

Panel members fielded questions from the audience ranging from diversity awareness to the issue of genetics in homosexuality.

“Gayness is genetic and not something that happens by choice,” Szymecki said. “Most mammal classifications have homosexual patterns within their species.”

He said social programming, along with genetics, have been studied as several factors that could influence homosexuality at an early age.

Lesbians in particular have several challenges in dealing with society, freshman art major Ally Oulton said.

“If a straight guy is hitting on me, I have a hard choice,” she said. “If I tell him I’m not interested, he gets mad. If I tell him I’m a lesbian, that intrigues him more and makes it worse.”

Consequently, Oulton said if she refuses the advances of some men, they then will accuse her of hating all males.

Melinda Shilling, junior integrated language arts major, who was in the audience, said she liked how each respondent of the seven-member panel gave an individualized view of his or her situation as LGBT members.

“I liked to see their personal opinions,” Shilling said. “They represented themselves in their own way, not as a group.”

Contact general assignment reporter Josh Echt at [email protected].