Kent State Stands in Solidarity With LGBTQ+ Community
Students, staff, faculty and administrators gathered Monday in Kent State's Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer Plus Center in the Kent Student Center as one university family in support of members of the LGBTQ+ community.
The gathering was in response to a mass shooting that occurred late Saturday night at an LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado Springs, Colorado. At least five people were killed and 25 others injured before people in the club subdued the gunman.
Members of the LGBTQ+ community and their allies are grief-stricken and angry but not necessarily shocked. This horrific act is part of a documented rise in anti-LGBTQ activity both in the U.S. and abroad.
Kent State comes together
Kent State Vice President for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Amoaba Gooden and Senior Vice President for Student Affairs Lamar R. Hylton condemned this latest act of hate against the LGBTQ+ community. They organized the campus gathering to allow members of the Kent State community to process this recent event.
This was really important to bring our community together to process and reflect on the hatred that we experienced as a society.” - Lamar R. Hylton.
“Obviously, societal issues, such as the one that happened over the weekend, impact us right here at home,” he said. “We knew as a leadership team, and as a university leadership team, that it was important for us to act quickly to ensure that our entire university community had a space and a place to come together collectively to reflect, to process and to be in community with one another.”
Ken Ditlevson, director of Kent State’s LGBTQ+ Center, said, “This morning, students have expressed feelings of sadness, disbelief and anger around this senseless act of violence. I’m thankful that our LGBTQ+ Center was able to pivot quickly in providing space today for the Kent State community to come together to process feelings and to be surrounded by support and resources.”
An outpouring of care, and emotion
People completely filled the space inside the LGBTQ+ Center and overflowed into the area outside the entrance. Lo Denmon, assistant director of the center, said it was the most people they had ever seen assembled at the center.
Ditlevson and Denmon spoke at the beginning of the gathering to welcome everyone to “a safe space” where they could share their thoughts and feelings. No photography was permitted, as not all attendees would be comfortable having their images captured or shared.
One by one people spoke, some with great emotion and tears. They shared their sadness at what had happened in Colorado and heartfelt sympathy for the dead and injured and their friends and families.
“The tragedy in Colorado Springs against the LGBTQ+ community has had a ripple effect across our campus, our country and around the globe.” – Ken Ditlevson
The Division of Student Affairs also wants to remind our community that students can access mental health and support resources on the Step Up and Speak Out website or by calling Counseling and Psychological Services at 330-672-2487. Mental health services are available to faculty and staff through IMPACT Solutions, our employee assistance program, at 1-800-227-6007. For general well-being resources, anyone can visit the Kent State of Well-being resource page.