Carnegie Mellon University

Staff Council

The voice for staff at Carnegie Mellon University

At the Intersection: Professional Staff and LGBTQ+ Identity

October 17, 2017

At the Intersection: Professional Staff and LGBTQ+ Identity

By Ashley Grice

To many across campus, including our students, October is celebrated in the U.S. as National LGBTQ+ History Month. I’ll speak for myself when I say that it is quite the challenge to navigate this space as a member of this community in today’s climate. One thing that I find most inspiring is seeing our students mobilize in acts of solidarity against the attempts of hate that make their way to our campus community.

Being a professional staff member does not exclude me from experiencing the world from multiple cross-sections of identities, therefore choosing how to engage with the campus community, when the Westboro Baptist Church Hate-Group made its way to campus, was a difficult task. As someone who also identifies as a member of the Black community here at Carnegie Mellon University, I not only had to factor in the impact this experience could have from a racial perspective, but I also had to consider the impact the messaging this group would have on me from my Queer identity. Making the conscience choice to work from a coffee shop on this day, I prioritized my own self-care (something that I believe many struggle to practice). And as much as I was conflicted over this need to choose “me” first, I did so knowing that the students I care about had such a supreme level of support from my peers and colleagues across campus put me at ease.

When I see so many groups of students come together in support of communities they may not even be a part of, it makes me wonder if there are staff members across campus asking themselves the same question—where can I find a community like this at Carnegie Mellon? In the two years that I have been at Carnegie Mellon, I’ve find myself in a very fortunate position. Finding peers and colleagues throughout the walls of campus, whom I would consider allies and friends, has been the one thing that I have never gone without. But for those that don’t know me, I’m a firm believer that even in the professional work setting, you need people who have your best interest at heart, even in your work spaces. Not to say that this mentality isn’t a foundational value in every area of campus. Being a member of the LGBTQ+ community forces me to navigate and operate through campus in a different way that most don’t understand. And knowing there are other professional staff at Carnegie Mellon who may have similar experiences, it’s important for folks to know that they’re not alone!

This year, I have the pleasure of continuing to build my LGBTQ+ professional network at Carnegie Mellon University through the continuation of the LGBTQ Task Force, an organized group of faculty and staff committed to improving campus climate for all members of the LGBTQ+ community through hosting events geared towards LGBTQ staff and faculty, while also participating in and supporting campus-wide initiatives that support and advocate for our current student body.

So to all those looking for ways to become more engaged with professional staff across campus in the LGBTQ+ space, I have the pleasure of co-leading the LGBTQ+ Task Force with Jess Klein, the Coordinator for Gender Programs & LGBTQ+ Initiatives. Wanna learn more? Shoot us an email!

Happy LGBTQ+ History Month to all those celebrating in Pride! 

Jess Klein and Ashley Grice From left to right: Jess Klein and Ashley Grice