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Monday, August 3, 2015

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LGBTA community gathers at conference

By Christine LaRouere / The State News

Participants and organizers at the 2013 MBLGTACC Conference discuss its importance and impact at MSU.

The Midwest Bisexual Lesbian Gay Transgender Ally College Conference, also known as MBLGTACC, came to Lansing this past weekend to present more than 2,000 students with resources and workshops for almost all lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender, or LGBT, related topics.

While the conference was a chance for MSU students who identify with the community or are allies to learn more about LGBT lifestyles, researchers at MSU also saw it as a chance to research a more diverse audience.

Kristen Renn, a professor of educational administration and coinvestigator of the research project, said the conference provided a chance to show what the study is about and talk to people who they normally wouldn’t be able to reach.

Renn sat at a table for the National Study of LGBTQ Student Success where she hoped to gather information about what makes LGBT students successful in terms of their academic, social, emotional and personal success. She plans to use the information to make recommendations for other colleges to develop programs, support systems and advice for students.

“We are doing an online survey and interviews here at the conference,” Renn said. “We are looking for what environmental factors contribute to success and then looking at a person and what makes them thrive.”

By Katie Stiefel / The State News
Intern at the MSU LBGT Resource Center, Zoe Steinfield, middle, looks at jewelry displayed at one of the booths at the Career and Resource Fair at MBLGTACC on Saturday, Feb. 9, 2013, at the Lansing Center. The three-day conference included over 90 educational workshops on various topics that affect LGBTA people.
By Katie Stiefel / The State News
Actor in the film "Scary Normal," Marc-Anthony Macon, talks with friends before the start of the second plenary session of the MBLGTACC conference on Saturday, Feb. 9, 2013, at the Lansing Center. "Scary Normal" was shown to MBLGTACC participants on Saturday night. Katie Stiefel/The State News
By Katie Stiefel / The State News
From left to right, freshmen Ethan Lautenschlager, Afton Goins and Sam Walburn of Purdue University chat during their down time at the MBLGTACC conference on Saturday, Feb. 9, 2013, at the Lansing Center. MBLGTACC is the largest LGBTA college conference in the nation. Katie Stiefel/The State News
By Katie Stiefel / The State News
Participants of the MBLGTACC conference gather before the second plenary session takes place on Saturday, Feb. 9, 2013, at the Lansing Center. The keynote speaker of the session was Robyn Ochs, a bisexual speaker, teacher, writer and activist. Katie Stiefel/The State News

Music education sophomore Emily Pelky said the conference provides more information they can incorporate into student discussions at MSU’s West Circle People Respecting Individuality, Diversity and Equality, or PRIDE, meetings.

“Bringing new material back to PRIDE is really awesome,” Pelky said. “I am excited for the opportunity to show them what I learned, and I think it will be a good thing for our members and E-Board to hear that so many people are all in this together.”

Social work junior John Swartz, also a PRIDE member, said sometimes they do not get the information they need on campus, such as definitions of different terminology among the LGBT community and an understanding of more diverse lifestyles than just what is on campus.

The MSU LBGT Resource Center also attended the conference to show they can be a resource MSU students can go to once the conference is finished.

Denzel McCampbell, program assistant for the MSU LBGT Resource Center, said he was there to represent MSU at the conference.

“We want MSU students that come to this conference to know that there are a lot of people out there that are on campus and provide an accepting environment for LGBT students,” McCampbell said.

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