Diversity at NJIT: the LGBTQ Community
By Satoe Ozawa
This week and the past week are dedicated to LGBTQ awareness. SPECTRUM and Diversity Programs at the Center for Student Involvement (CSI) held events to initiate conversation focused on LGBTQ. On Wednesday, there was a table in the lobby set up by CSI, explaining the difference between gender identity, gender expression, biological sex, and attraction.
Gender is a complicated subject that does not have a definitive answer. Niharika Padala, a sophomore Biology major as well as a Diversity Center assistant, broke down some of the terminology. Gender identity is one’s own perception and personal experience with their gender. It is whether a person categorizes himself or herself as a male or a female. Gender expression is how masculine or feminine a person decides to present themself. Biological sex is our natural, physical anatomy, including external sex organs, chromosomes and hormones. Attraction is to whom you are physically drawn.
There were various handouts at the table, most notably a “Genderbread Person” from itpronouncedmetrosexual.com, which acted as a guide to understand a little more about the complexities of gender. Padala explained that, “since NJIT is extremely diverse and gay marriage is now legal, it’s important to be able to accept the community and relate with them.”
The Diversity Center works to host all types of diversity related events. Run by two student coordinators and student assistants, all under Sherlene Ayala, Assistant Director of Leadership and Diversity, CSI partners with different clubs and organizations to spread the love and appreciation for diversity of the NJIT student body. “I like talking about issues. It’s a good way to learn and grow as a person. After a year [of working for the Diversity Center], I became more aware of my surroundings and have a lot more perspective of how people feel,” says Padala about her experience with CSI so far.
Any student interested can also become part of the team next semester when they start accepting applications. Until then, anyone is free to partake in their upcoming events, Brick Out the Hate on Nov 4, Wednesday, from 10am – 4pm in the Campus Center Lobby and a LGBTQ Student Leadership Conference at Montclair State University on Nov 6, Friday.