Hunter Stenback, Senior Staff Writer

In response to the recent deaths of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) students across the country, GLBTQ Services and the LGBT Advisory Group are hosting a public forum for students to express themselves.

The Opposite of Hate: A Public Forum will take place from 2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 22 in 128 Pearson Hall.

According to Demere Woolway, GLBTQ coordinator for the Office of Diversity Affairs, the goal of the forum is for students to discuss their ideas and concerns and to have an open dialogue about current events within the LGBT community.

“The idea behind it being a forum is that I’m really hoping it’s a space where people can express their feelings, express their concerns about the community and maybe share resources,” Woolway said. “I’ll have some particular resources to give out to people, but basically we just want to give a space for people to express their concerns and hopefully maybe come to some solution.”

Woolway said the forum will include a number of leaders from across campus in order to facilitate the discussion.

“We will have a handful of different community leaders from different areas, some from Residence Life, some from the Oxford community, some from within, who have different perspectives on the community,” Woolway said. “We want to talk about what people who don’t necessarily identify as gay can do to help support the LGBT community, and that’s kind of how we’ll open (the forum) up.”

Woolway said the forum will build upon similar discussions that took place last April in response to specific cases of discrimination on Miami’s campus and will keep LGBT issues in the limelight.

“This is a space where we can continue to talk about what are we doing to actively fight against discrimination,” Woolway said. “What are we actively doing is fighting prejudice, as opposed to just waiting around for it to happen.”

According to junior Jon Yarbrough, social chair for Spectrum, the forum will bring legitimate LGBT concerns to the forefront.

“Personally I believe that it’s important to have an open discussion about things like this because the biggest problem is that things go unheard of,” Yarbrough said. “It’s not some kind of trend. Things like this have been going on for years, and I don’t think it is out of the norm.”

Yarbrough said having a discussion could bridge the gap between students who are informed about GLBTQ issues and those who are uninformed.

“Creating an open dialogue like this allows for people who maybe don’t understand to learn about the issues and for those who are more well informed to figure out a way of creating an environment where people can feel comfortable being who they are no matter what race, gender or sexuality,” Yarbrough said. “I think it’s really important because silence can be the worst enemy.”

Woolway is confident the conversation will be beneficial for those who participate.

“I think there’s a lot of really good feeling and good will out there, so if we have 10 people we’ll have a meaningful discussion and if we have 100 people we’ll have a meaningful discussion,” she said. “The people who come will want to be there and will want to have meaningful conversation.”

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