Lindenwood panel discusses ‘allyship’ to LGBTQIA+ community


Photo by Lynsey Aldam

Staff member Jen Spellazza shows an infographic displaying the LindenAlly program.


Over 20 faculty and students attended the Diversity Dialogue: How to be an Ally in the LARC theater on Thursday. Ethan Miller, Lindenwood’s campus activities program coordinator and co-founder of the Gay-Straight Alliance here, facilitated the panel. 

Diversity dialogues are intended to shed insight on topics within minority groups on campus. The premise of this discussion focused on “allyship” or what it means to be an ally to the LGTBQIA+ community. The dialogue panel featured Angie Royal, director of student involvement, Jen Spellazza, admission’s counselor and Diversity, Equity and Inclusion staff fellow, and Betsy Feutz, senior associate athletics director.

​Royal said administrators at Lindenwood must be willing to identify the current flaws that are preventing an inclusive environment.

But this requires administrators to ask “Am I brave enough to say I’m not okay with that?” Royal said.

The university hasn’t always been progressive. For example, the Gay-Straight Alliance was once known as Spectrum Alliance. The focus of this group was far broader as it represented all minority groups on campus, including those with disabilities, while a standalone GSA did not yet exist. “Spectrum” was problematic as it equated being queer to a disability, creating further marginalization, Royal said.

In 2014, Spectrum Alliance officially changed names to Gay-Straight Alliance. This semester Gay-Straight Alliance changed its name to Gender and Sexualities Alliance.​

Here’s how the panel defined an ally:

  • Be a listener
  • Be open-minded
  • Be willing to talk
  • Be inclusive
  • Don’t assume things
  • Confront your own prejudices and bias
  • Believe all people should be treated with respect​

While the panel gave advice on how to be an ally, the true topic of debate was how to acquire that label.

Angie Royal said to be an ally your actions must be received by the community. Jen Spellazza agreed with Royal and said the label needs to be earned.

“You can’t self assign,” Spellazza said. “You must make a commitment to allyship.”

If interested in learning more about what an ally means, Miller suggested checking out the LindenAlly Program, which started this semester, and the DEI Task Force.