The UMBC Mosaic Center for Culture and Diversity holds a variety of events throughout the semester. Dedicated to “creating an environment that supports cross-cultural education and collaboration at UMBC,” the Mosaic Center, a voice for diversity and inclusion on campus, is celebrating its 15 year anniversary.
Its monthly series “What’s the (T)ea” discusses different topics in social justice issues that face the modern world while also serving as a safe space for the UMBC community to engage in “conscious questioning and active listening.”
Most recently, near the end of October, the Mosaic Center led a session on the “Policies Beyond Marriage Equality.” Members of the UMBC community were reminded to “participate according to individual comfort, to listen and speak mindfully.” This encouraged the use of skills that are vital in creating a safe, open space for discussion.
The session centered around two videos that explored the stigmas surrounding the legalization of gay marriage as well as discrimination in the workplace faced by the LGBTQ+ community. In the 2015 case Obergefell v. Hodges, the Supreme Court “ruled that all state bans on same-sex marriage were unconstitutional.” This was a massive victory for gay rights in the United States. The video itself showed a variety of reactions from different ends of the political spectrum.
Maintaining the promise to critical dialogue, session leader and Coordinator for Student Diversity and Inclusion in the Mosaic Center, Carlos Turcios, opened the floor to discussion where many shared their reactions and thoughts throughout the videos.
Turcios also armed the group with important terms and distinctions, vital for productive and accurate discussion on LGBTQ+ experiences. Distinctions between sex and gender as well as between gender identity and gender expression were discussed by the group.
The group went on to discuss the privileges of being straight and cisgender, especially in the university setting. Questions on seemingly simple experiences spurred dialogue on gender versus gendered bathrooms, media representation, medical treatment, pronouns, sexual education, relationships, etc.
A recent Gallup poll found that 67% of Americans today, almost two-thirds of the country, say they support gay marriage. But, if anything was gleaned from October’s “What’s the (T)ea” session, it is that the gay rights movement is far from being over.
In Maryland alone, there is no law that addresses the discrimination facing students on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. Gay rights activists today continue to acknowledge that, while the U.S. has moved forward in legalizing gay marriage, it still has a long way to go in providing true equality for all in the LGBTQ+ community.
The next Mosaic Center “What’s the (T)ea,” “Let’s Talk Whiteness,” will be held on Dec. 4 in the UMBC Commons.