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GRC looks to engage students through LGBTQ History Month, Relationship Violence Awareness Month

| Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Throughout the month of October, students will have the opportunity to collect free rainbow toothbrushes, stuffed unicorns, t-shirts and a variety of free food across campus.

The reason? The Gender Relations Center is hosting a series of events to commemorate LGBTQ History Month and Relationship Violence Awareness Month (RVAM) this October.

Sara Agostinelli, assistant director for LGBTQ student initiatives, said this is the first year the GRC is hosting events throughout LGBTQ History Month.

“[We’re asking] how can we share information and knowledge about the history of LGBTQ people with campus, but also, how can we bring people together and just use it as an opportunity for people to engage with each other?” she said. “… As much as we’re giving away free things, we’re giving away information, and I think helping dispel things people might not know or misconceptions people might have.”

Assistant director for outreach, student leadership and assessment John Johnstin is leading Relationship Violence Awareness Month efforts. He said the month’s biggest events include the Time to Heal Dinner, Kintsugi and a presentation on the effects of porn on relationships.

“The biggest goal would be to raise awareness about the topic of relationship violence, discuss healing and provide resources,” Johnstin said in an email.

Throughout the month, the GRC hopes to raise awareness around overlooked topics and issues on campus, Agostinelli said.

“People might not know October is LGBTQ history month and I think it also allows us to engage with people and help bring that awareness,” she said. “As we move into November with Stand Against Hate Week — which is really about intersectionality and how you address that — I think it helps provides some nice foundational information that allows us to continue that work of why it’s important to all of campus.”

For Johnstin, the most rewarding part of planning this month’s events has been “seeing how important this topic is to so many students.”

“It is a topic that impacts so many people in so many ways but is not frequently discussed,” he said.

Similarly, Agostinelli said many students may not have a broad knowledge of the LGBTQ community’s history. On Oct. 22 and Oct. 25, the GRC is hosting a trivia night to help educate students about LGBTQ history, she said.

“I think it’s a fun way to invite people in who might not normally come to an LGBTQ event,” she said. “They’re going to have some prizes, so I think [we’re] kind of inviting people in to learn about that history, that maybe isn’t something they’ve learned whether in middle school, high school, their history classes now.”

Planning for both RVAM and LGBTQ History Month began in August, Agostinelli said, and she and Johnstin have been working throughout the past few months to coordinate events.

“I think our work is very intersectional,” she said. “And so we wanted to find some ways to tie the two months together … so kind of trying to mix it between educational events, social events, faith events. That way we can engage different students in different ways.”

Overall, Agostinelli said she hopes the GRC’s events are able to engage a wide variety of students.

“I think the hope is to engage different students at different times and spaces and in what calls to them,” she said. “For some students, a faith group is really what’s going to call to them and for others, it’s playing trivia for a rainbow toothbrush.”

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About Natalie Weber

Natalie Weber graduated in 2020 from the University of Notre Dame, with a Bachelor of Arts in English and minors in journalism and computing. A native of Grand Junction, Colorado she most recently served as Managing Editor at The Observer. // Email: [email protected] // Twitter: @wordsbyweber

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