February 18 2017
First there was a slew of classes on white privilege, now there’s a new flavor of privilege workshops. Marshall University in West Virginia will train employees about “heterosexual privilege” next week in an effort to better accommodate the college’s LGBTQ community.
“Our society is geared toward traditional heterosexual roles and relationships, and as a result there are certain privileges that heterosexuals in traditional relationships are afforded that they may take for granted that others in the LGBTQ community may not have,” Morgan Conley, a mental health specialist for the university, told Heat Street.
The Student Counseling Center will present its heterosexual privilege session on Tuesday as part of a bigger Safe Space training for faculty and staff. To illustrate heterosexual privilege, the university will ask employees to participate in a “Privilege for Sale” exercise.
“People attending the training will be broken into groups and have a list of privileges that heterosexuals typically have but that others in the LGBTQ community may not have, and they will only be able to select a few of those privileges,” Conley said. “The group has to collectively agree and then explain why they picked what they picked and why they didn’t pick others.”
One such privilege, she explained, is that cisgender people can, without fear, use the bathroom associated with their identified gender.
Attendees will also learn about LGBTQ vocabulary and how to avoid “language mistakes that make people uncomfortable,” the associate dean of student affairs told the Parthenon, Marshall University’s student newspaper.
The goal, Conley said, is to increase faculty and staff’s awareness about what LGBTQ students may face on campus so the university can foster a more inclusive community. The training is optional.
— Jillian Kay Melchior writes for Heat Street and is a fellow for the Steamboat Institute and the Independent Women’s Forum.