A perspective on Gender Exploration Week

Caitlin Dawes is a junior German major and Religion minor at PLU. She works on campus as Social Justice Director of PLU’s Residence Hall Association (RHA), Co-Commissioner of Queer & Questioning (q2) and Campus Ministry Steward. She is also involved with PLU’s Queer Ally Student Union (QASU), a member of the Interfaith Council and works as a Lead Tutor at Brookdale Elementary with America Reads. She is passionate about advocacy and community engagement.
Caitlin Dawes is a junior German major and Religion minor at PLU. She works on campus as Social Justice Director of PLU’s Residence Hall Association (RHA), Co-Commissioner of Queer & Questioning (q2) and Campus Ministry Steward. She is also involved with PLU’s Queer Ally Student Union (QASU), a member of the Interfaith Council and works as a Lead Tutor at Brookdale Elementary with America Reads. She is passionate about advocacy and community engagement.

By Caitlin Dawes, RHA Social Justice Director

Over the course of Gender Exploration Week (GEW), I was surprised as to the diverse group of students I was able to reach out to.

Instead of just seeing familiar faces, students whom I have never met before took a brave step and gave the events a go.

Students learned about one another Oct. 18 in The Cave, as we went around the room sharing our coming out stories, which really helped give context to people and their lives and where they are at today.

Students learned about the importance of GEW and why, as a university, we put on such an emphasized week.

I was surprised to see students who participated in the tabling Oct. 13 with the prompt question, “what are you coming out as today?”

This startled many people, but also had them think about what their identities are and even witness a few students and staff come out publicly in regards to their sexuality or gender identity.

I am proud to say that over the course of the week, more than 500 people that participated either actively or passively with the programs and Facebook feed.

Just because the week is over, doesn’t mean the conversations have to stop.

Similar to when we are on break, we are still students learning in our community and will learn every day.

Tomorrow can still be a day to learn about another person’s expression of gender and identity. Tomorrow can still be a day where you can be an advocate or an ally for someone.

I hope people were challenged this week to self-reflect, and discovered more about themselves and their community.

This piece was also featured in The Matrix’s newsletter.

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