The LGBTQ Scholars of Color Network hosted its third biennial conference at SF State to discuss LGBTQ people of color in the academic sphere.

The LGBTQ Scholars of Color Network is a New York-based team of students and graduates advocating for queer rights and representation in the academic world. The network hosted a two-day event, which took place on Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Annex 1. SF
State students, graduates, faculty and allies of the local LGBTQ community came together to network, strategize and partake in panel discussions.

Panelists discussed themes like the negative effects of heteronormativity and the importance of creating a safe space for LGBTQ
students of color in academia.  Topics included trans and indigenous communities, and the presence of LGBTQ representation in faculty and administration.

According to Charlotte Tate, trans woman of color, SF State psychology professor and co-chair of the event, the LGBTQ Scholars of Color Network aimed to especially amplify trans voices.

“There has been tension with trans voices and the academy,” Tate said. “Sometimes the academy is interested in listening to trans voices, but only for particular purposes. There is a competing event called the Transgender Health Summit where a lot of cisgender folks are talking about
the transgender experience.”

The Transgender Health Summit took place at UCSF on the same weekend as the LGBTQ Scholars of Color Network.

Andrew Spieldenner, co-founder of the LGBTQ Scholars of Color Network, wished to shed light on the lack of resources and discussion surrounding LGBTQ students of color on college campuses.

“We recognize the need for LGBTQ scholars of color to have a network where we can share leadership and experiences and mentor each other through academia,” Spieldenner said.  “Academia’s institution is built on racism, sexism, homophobia [and] capitalist ideology that doesn’t serve us as LGBTQ people of color.

At the “Trans Voices: Beyond the Ivory Tower” panel, Aria Sa’id, trans woman and co-founder of Bay Area organization Kween Culture Initiative, discussed how an academic degree is not always the key to success among LGBTQ scholars of color.

“I don’t actually have a college degree and I’ve been able to do incredible work,” Sa’id said. “I’ve had five laws signed by the governor, I have worked in public health, I have been published in different research studies and I’ve been able to travel around the world to promote the resil-
ience of trans people.”

The “Decolonial Praxis and LGBTQ Administrators” panel cultivated discussion surrounding how the academic system partakes in erasing indigenous language and culture to fit with more western, heteronormative views.

Andrew Jolivette, panelist and professor of American Indian studies, said that SF State tries to practice decolonial praxis, which benefits students’ relationship with the outside community.

“[Praxis is] something that is deeply important to us here at San Francisco State in our tradition of connecting community with scholarship and producing real change,” Jolivette said.

South Carolina University student Naomi Simmons-Thorne traveled from South Carolina to attend the weekend event. Simmons-Thorne appreciated the sense of community she felt at the network. Simmons-Thorne said she feels inspired by her fellow queer and trans organizers and advocates.

“Coming to these kinds of events helps and supports me and helps me to continue to fight, because sometimes it can be very lonely,” Simmons-Thorne said. “Being here for me is more so about hearing about the great work that other queer and trans people are doing, meeting new QTPOC scholars and networking.”

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