Listen UofL: Safe, Queer classrooms are important

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By Remi Dior

Art by Bri Bowers

Background: A student has come into Dr. Kaila Story’s class to distribute anti-queer literature. A Courier Journal article describes the pamphlet as being 36 pages in length. An excerpt shared in the article shows that the pamphlet denounces the idea that “what people do sexually is their own business.” The pamphlet also compares being LGBTQ – or being supportive of LGBTQ people – as akin to being trapped inside a car that has stalled on railroad tracks, with a train approaching.

As, a long time student of Dr. Story (Doc) I feel that the current university response towards the harassment of her and her students during class sessions has been, at the least, unsatisfactory — if not a clear participation in the culture of — LGBTQ+ harm.

As an institution that prides itself as a welcoming space for LGBTQ+ folx, it has left its students vulnerable to attack.

My experiences as a black trans-femme often leave me vunerable to harassment, and this behavior terrifies me.

I am terrified that the very class room that gave me the language to name my truth has was attacked.

I’m terrified because students who share my shoes aren’t learning and growing because they are stifled by fear -fear of being who they want to be or learning about who they could be.

As a person who constantly worries about existing outside the comfort of my room, this terrifies me.

It is because of Dr. Story I found another safe place and the tools and confidence to branch my existence into other spaces — her classroom gave me that.

Her courses along with many queer-centered courses became windows of possibilities for their students who felt that their current worlds had no place for them.

For those of us who have had the privilege to attend a university, these courses offer us new lives. We are given the tools to recreate ourselves in a image of our delight, if we so choose.

It is within the classroom where I began to find myself or at the very least been given the luxury to question and critique the current version of my person. And I am so deeply injured that the university seems to not being doing all they can to allow students the same safety I felt when taking her courses.

I see this as an attack on the queer classroom and in turn an obstruction of the liberated queered future. I wish the university and by way the world would realize the importance of a queer classroom and the many mechanics it holds — especially its role as a safe haven.

The behavior exhibited from this student and the university has left me and many of my peers feeling unsafe and uncared for. Currently the university, through their inadequate response, has in some way participated in this harassment upon my community is appalling.

We deserve to learn in peace, to exist in peace, and to teach in peace. Although fear and anger are omnipresent. The deepest emotion I feel is sadness. I am sadden that this wonderful human being who has accomplished so much in the realms of black queer liberation, an asset to the university, has been patronized by this institution and her and her students concern and emotions distorted by this institution. Dr. Kaila Story means so much to her students and we are all upset and very sadden by these recent events.

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