By Katie Farkas
LGBTQ+ is an evolving abbreviation. The current acronym, LGBTQIA+, although changing to create a more inclusive environment, stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and/or questioning, intersex and asexual, agender or ally. “IA” was added to the acronym because there was an opportunity for it to be more comprehensive and these additions to LGBTQ+ are not just specific to Adelphi. It is part of a larger effort to make the community as inclusive as possible.
“This change is new, approved in April 2021, and went into effect in summer 2021, and we are still learning what impact it has on the Adelphi community,” said Scott Zotto, coordinator of Substance Abuse Counseling and Prevention Programing. “I can say that we did receive two proposals from committee members to create programs centered on intersex issues. That is a first for us and we hope these proposals increase in frequency and quality.”
Zotto said the energy behind the acronym change came from the Adelphi Pride Committee, but he added that “as with most work we do, we never do it alone.” He said representatives from the Gender and Sexuality Alliance (GSA), Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, the Office of Alumni Relations, and the LGBTQIA+ Task Force have seats on the committee and all agreed that the acronym, LGBTQ+ though inclusive, should be updated to LGBTQIA+.
“I sent an email on behalf of Adelphi Pride to University Communications and they were very responsive and affirming of this change,” Zotto said. “The change spread across the Adelphi website and the university's guide to inclusive language was updated at the start of the fall 2021 Semester.”
It has gotten positive feedback, including from Carol Sussal, associate professor in the School of Social Work, who has been at the university for 45 years and founded Adelphi Pride 12 years ago.
“Where I go back is to when I was first coming out, which was in the 70s when I was doing a doctorate and a post-doctoral diploma. The acronym was only LG. Once we got to LGBT our understanding began to grow about the landscape of our sexual orientation and experiences,” Sussal said. “I have five degrees from Adelphi. In my first three degrees, I was straight, and in the last two I was coming out, and now I am a very proud lesbian. I am grateful for that. There has been a tremendous amount of growth on campus with Adelphi Pride.”
Sussal added she founded Adelphi Pride “because at Adelphi it really was something that was missing. It made the campus community more equitable and accepting.”
Luis Merino, a sophomore political science major with a minor in gender and sexuality studies, said the addition of “IA” to the LGBTQ+ acronym is essential. “It allows for an even more direct, yet broader inclusiveness approach. Not to mention, it has been a larger campaign to include all identities within the community and the `LGBTQ+’ acronym is simply not as inclusive as it should be.”
Merino continued, “Although I, as a cisgender gay male, it has not affected me, it does affect my colleagues and friends who feel excluded from the LGBTQ+ acronym. They feel as if it does not include them since all of them are distinct in their own respective ways.”
Merino said while he can’t speak for the overall community, he believes the LGBTQIA+ acronym is vital to ensure a safe, welcoming and accepting community at Adelphi. “This change will not only promote inclusiveness, but also empower the values that Adelphi upholds: community and collaboration, global awareness and diversity, respect for the individual and truth and integrity,” he said.
Within the Adelphi community, there are many resources and organizations for students to build community with other students and faculty, including the LGBTQ+ Student Empowerment Group with contact Scott Zotto at the Student Counseling Center; the Gender and Sexuality Alliance, a club that meets weekly and is a safe space for all members of the LGBTQIA+ community and their allies; as well as Gender Inclusive Housing that is available in Chapman Hall, Waldo Hall and Residence Hall A and B where people of any sex or gender identity can live together.
For more information about the LGBTQ+ Student Empowerment Group, students can email the Student Counseling Center at firstname.lastname@example.org. To get involved with the Gender and Sexuality Alliance, students can email email@example.com or follow them on Instagram @adelphigsa. And for information about gender inclusive housing, students can contact the housing department at firstname.lastname@example.org.