LGBT affairs director speaks to UF Law about acceptance, political correctness
By Francie Weinberg
Lauren “LB” Hannahs came to the University of Florida Levin College of Law to play games and lead a lively presentation about acceptance and political correctness of the gay community. Sponsored by the Diversity and Community Relations Committee and OUTLaw, UF Law’s gay-straight alliance, the Feb. 13 Gator Allies program taught students to ‘chomp out queerphobia.’
Hannahs, the director of LGBT affairs at the University of Florida, uses Gator Allies as an educational opportunity that focuses on issues that affect the LGBTQ community, while offering the opportunity to engage with the question, what does it mean to be an ally to the LGBTQ community? The program is designed to provide participants with increased awareness and understanding of current LGBTQ issues and history, further understanding of heteronormativity and homophobia and how it affects everyone and skills and resources in being an ally across multiple contexts and communities.
“I think a lot of times when it comes to LGBT issues, people don’t really know what things are OK to say and what are not OK to say,” Hannahs said. “People feel like they’re offending someone or they’re in the wrong setting. This is an opportunity for us to figure out what’s important. Let’s leave all the PC at the door.”
Hannahs had students and faculty name stereotypes of people in the LGBT community and then worked to help everyone understand why all of these stereotypes were wrong. They also played a game in which they matched up terms with their meanings, leaving many confused and overwhelmed.
“This is surprisingly difficult, right?” Hannahs asked. “If you’re feeling overwhelmed, we’re doing our job. When it comes to LGBT issues and gender and sexuality, it’s not very clean-cut.”
Hannahs serves as a beacon for the entire LGBT community in the North-Central Florida community. The lack of education about LGBT issues in public schools, as well as the fact that only about 200 college campuses in the nation have positions like hers, is one of her biggest concerns.
“Our education about the possibility of gender and sexuality being more than man, woman, straight, not straight, is difficult for us to even think about,” Hannahs said. “If your brain hurts, you’re good.”
UF and UF Law have resources available for those who may be struggling with academic stress, personal issues or harassment or bullying. For more information visit http://www.law.ufl.edu/student-affairs/additional-information/have-a-problem-we-can-help for where to seek the best help for your situation.