From the third annual Louisiana Queer Conference to the Bayou State’s first secular convention, the University’s LGBT and atheist students saw an increase in organized action within their communities on campus this semester.
The University’s Atheists, Humanists and Agnostics club largely expanded its presence on campus by booking noteworthy guest speakers, including co-president of the Freedom from Religion Foundation Dan Barker, a former evangelical preacher-turned-atheist.
Barker aimed to disprove Jesus’ resurrection through analysis of the Bible in a discussion held Feb. 21 in Coates Hall.
AHA’s most significant organized event this semester was Reason on the Bayou, Louisiana’s first official atheist conference, which saw more than 100 nonbelievers from across the South come together April 14 to discuss topics ranging from separation of church and state to LGBT rights.
The University’s LGBT community also expanded their outreach this semester through events like the Louisiana Queer Conference and TEDxLSU.
Local LGBT activist and recent University graduate Tucker Barry was chosen to speak at the on-campus TEDxLSU event, held March 9 at the Reilly Theatre.
Barry’s TEDxLSU talk discussed the power of amateurs in creating change, a topic in which the Equality Louisiana and Louisiana Trans Advocates co-founder is well versed as former president of the University’s Spectrum organization.
In an interview leading up to the TEDxLSU event, Barry stressed the importance of college students in Louisiana’s LGBT community.
“I can’t overestimate college kids and how important they have been to the statewide movement,” Barry said.
Barry’s term as Spectrum president coincided with the establishment of the Louisiana Queer Conference, the third of which was held at the University on March 23.
Alison Gill, the government affairs director for the Trevor Project, was the keynote speaker for this year’s Louisiana Queer Conference. Gill discussed the importance of turning education within the LGBT community into action at the end of a conference filled with networking, workshops and a panel of activists, all involving LGBT issues.
The LGBT community’s semester of action at the University will culminate in the first official Lavender Graduation ceremony, which will be held at 1 p.m. May 14 in the Royal Cotillion Ballroom of the Student Union and is sponsored by the Office of Multicultural Affairs.
Chad Freeman, graduate assistant for the Office of Multicultural Affairs’ LGBTQ Project and Safe Space Campaign, said although the University’s Spectrum organization has held Lavender Graduation ceremonies for its own members in the past, he felt it would be good for the Office of Multicultural Affairs to take Lavender Graduation under its wing while continuing to partner with Spectrum for the event.