Ohio University

OIT celebrates Pride Month: Using technology to support the LGBTQ+ community

Published: June 11, 2021 Author: Nicole Wires

This Pride Month, the Ohio University Office of Information Technology (OIT) is pleased to celebrate the importance of technology for LGBTQ+ students and share resources with the OHIO community that can help create inclusive and affirming learning environments.

Pride Month offers everyone an opportunity to reflect on how to celebrate and support the LGBTQ+ community in our everyday lives. For many lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer or questioning (LGBTQ+) individuals, technology plays a crucial role, offering opportunities for identity exploration and affirmation as well as connection to other LGBTQ+ folks. 

Finding affirmation and navigating challenges online

Andy Figueroa (they/them/theirs), a recent OHIO graduate, explained that technology allows them not just to connect with people who share their identity, but who also share their interests. “By finding other queer POC [people of color] creators whose online presence is just them doing what they love, it can be very affirming.”

While technology offers opportunities for connection and validation, virtual spaces also harbor potential dangers. According to the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network, "LGBT youth experience nearly three times as much bullying and harassment online as non-LGBT youth, but also find greater peer support, access to health information and opportunities to be civically engaged.” 

As learning and work have moved online over the course of the pandemic, so too have Ohio University’s efforts to create safe spaces.

Dr. Jan Huebenthal (he/him/his), education manager at the Equitas Health Institute and former assistant director of the OHIO LGBT Center, shared how when the pandemic sent some students back into unsupportive home environments, it was clear that continuing to support Bobcats called for an increased focus on leveraging technology. The Division of Diversity and Inclusion launched online trainings providing resources, key terms and definitions, and strategies to assist faculty to foster inclusive and equitable learning environments in new virtual settings. 

“It's much more than you just want your students to feel well supported,” Huebenthal says. “If you want your students to feel empowered in your classroom, you can only do that by signaling that your spaces are inclusive of everyone.” For example, as a faculty member, the act of adding your identified pronoun to your email signature is a way to signal to students that you support them. 

Using technology to show your Pride

Update your pronouns in University systems

In 2015 the University adopted the Preferred Pronoun Policy, which allows students to select their preferred form of self-identification in the My OHIO Student Center. OHIO faculty and staff can update their preferred name and pronoun by following these steps:

  1. Log in to My Personal Information
  2. Click Personal Information, located under My Personal Information. 
  3. Click Update in the Basic Details section. 
  4. Select Correct or complete the current details click the Next
  5. Update the Preferred first name and click Next. For example, you could put your pronouns in parentheses after your name, such as “Nicole (she/her).” 
  6. Click Next to navigate through the remaining pages. 
  7. Click Submit

It may take some time for this change to appear in various University platforms, such as Outlook or Teams.

Additional information on how to reflect your preferred pronoun can be found on the University’s Registrar FAQ site. 

Use Pride themes in Teams, PowerPoint and other Microsoft apps

Microsoft released several ways to show your support for Pride Month, including: 

  • Applying a Pride Month theme to your Teams mobile app 
  • Personalized Edge browser colors and themes 
  • Predesigned PowerPoint templates 
  • And other suggestions on how to transform Office 365 applications  

Participate in OHIO Pride Month virtual events