What are Straight Talks?
Straight Talks panels consist of 3-5 Penn State undergraduate and/or graduate students who are allies or identify in the LGBTQ+ community. These panelists are trained via the LGBTQA Center’s professional development programs or BBH 251. While not representative of the entire LGBTQA community, panelists can share their personal experiences and perspectives with classrooms, residence hall floors, Greek organizations, and other campus venues.
What are the ultimate goals of the Straight Talks Program?
- Educate members of the university community about lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer, and transgender identities.
- Address common stereotypes regarding sexual orientations and gender identities.
- Provide comfortable forums for audience members to inquire about the lives and experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people and their allies.
- Expand the number of individuals who define themselves as allies.
What happens at a typical Straight Talk?
LGBTQA Center Overview
- A panelist offers a 5-minute resource overview that summarizes the LGBTQA Center’s work and Penn State’s commitment to LGBTQ+ inclusivity
Explanation of LGBTQ Identities
- A panelist offers a 5-minute, non-exhaustive summary of biological sex, gender identity, gender expression, romantic orientation, and sexual orientation
- Audience members have an opportunity to inquire about common terminology in the LGBTQA community
- Panelists share their personal experiences as an ally or community member
- Personal stories will vary depending upon the panel composition. LGBTQ+ panelists often share their coming out experience, perceptions of campus climate, or how they choose to express their identities. Allies often share their experiences engaging identities outside their own, and/or how they’ve chosen to support the LBGTQ+ community.
- The Q&A is arguably the most important component of a Straight Talk. Participants may pose questions to panelists regarding their perceptions, identities, and experiences.
- Per the requester’s preference, Q&A can be conducted anonymously via notecards distributed and collected at the Straight Talk’s opening, or participants can voice questions in an open forum.
Can you accommodate special requests?
- For many panelists, disclosing their personal identities to a large group could be a challenging experience. Many panelists spend significant time crafting and refining their personal story. Thus, we do not ask panelists to edit their 5-minute personal stories for a particular context.
- We can attempt to accommodate identity-specific panels (e.g. trans-specific, non-cisgender persons, persons of color, Greek, et cetera). However, we have a limited panelists pool and cannot guarantee identity-specific panels.
- If your class is addressing a specific topic surrounding LGBTQA identities, our panelists can anticipate questions your students may pose.
How do I request a Straight Talk?
Complete the following Qualtrics request form: REQUEST
- LGBTQA Center Staff will e-mail you within 3 business days indicating your request has been received
- We will notify you at least 5 days in advance of your panel’s status. We cannot guarantee panelist availability; thus, requesters will have the option to grant staff more time to seek panelists, reschedule to a later date, or cancel. We endeavor to avoid cancellations/re-scheduling.
Is there a deadline?
- Our office has a ‘priority’ deadline. We prefer that that requests be submitted by the tenth class day of a given semester. Submitting by the priority deadline affords time to obtain panelists and provide timely confirmation.
- We will gladly accept requests after the priority deadline. However, requests made after the tenth class day may be more challenging given a limited number of panelists and reduced planning time.
Do you want to be a peer educator in the Straight Talks Program?
What is this about? The LGBTQA Student Resource Center would like you to consider participating in training for its Straight Talks Program. We're calling for LBGTQ+ panelists and their allies/supporters!
What happens in a Straight Talk? Panelists sign up to attend a class, residence hall program, Greek life program, or other campus venue. Multiple talks each semester allow panelists to pick Straight Talks that fit their schedule. A typical talk is staffed by 3 to 5 panelists. Each panelist provides a 5 minute personal statement about their experiences as a LGBTQ+ person or as an ally. Afterwards, audience members can ask questions about being LGBTQ+ or about allyship.
What do I get out of Straight Talks?
Support Penn State's LGBTQ+ community. Get involved in a university social justice education initiative. Increase your public speaking skill set. Panelists are in a unique position to educate and develop other Penn State students' perspectives on LGBTQ+ identities.
What's the time commitment?
A typical Straight Talk is a 50 - 90 minute commitment. Panelists sign up for the number of Straight Talks that fit their schedules. You may do as few as one talk per a semester or as many as fit your schedule. In the fall term, there are usually between 40 - 60 available Straight Talks.
101 Boucke Building | 814.863.1248 | Contact the LGBTQA Student Resource Center