ASU’s inQUEERy Fosters Inclusitvity for the LGBTQ Community

ASU’s inQUEERy Fosters Inclusitvity for the LGBTQ Community

With work compiled over the course of the past decade in the gender/sexual minority (GSM) community, Vern Harner is inspired to strengthen inclusivity within the queer community.

Harner’s recommendations for incoming students at Arizona State University is to believe in yourself and the ability to self­-advocate. “You can’t change everyone’s mind, and that’s okay,” he explains.

In the end, students will have gained the knowledge of knowing when to take a break or how to simply zone something out when in the middle of a trans-phobic class session.

Co­-founder and co­-chair of the ASU LGBTQ research collaborative inQUEERy, Harner hopes to see more academic, arts and activist focused queer groups at ASU.

Developing research for the GSM community via prevention, advocacy, education, and community needs assessments have been the main focus. Previous work accomplished has resulted in the public use of statistical data proven by Harner.

As an LGBTQ community activist, the research studies contributed by Harner continue to spread awareness to those who are less informed of the issues that stem today’s problems.

“I worked with a local organization to collect surveys regarding the unmet needs and risk/protective factors of Phoenix area gender/sexual minority young adults,” Harner said.

Harner expresses the struggle within the community for students and how it doesn’t always get better or easier.

“I’ve been to a handful of inQUEERy meetings and learned a great deal about graduate students’ LGBTQ related research,” inQUEERy member, Tajinder Virdee, said.

Harner strongly addresses how support focused groups will always be at the heart of our community but the idea of building up our networks or colleagues to advocate for broader policy change is a necessity for ASU and Arizona to be able to meet the needs of transgender individuals.

“Dr. Natasha Mendoza, a professor in the School of Social Work, has been a huge inspiration to me,” Harner said. “She has shown me that a queer person can be true to themselves while also pursuing a career in academia.” The hope of a similar future is a current dream.

InQUEERy group member, Jessica Salas, said, “Even coming to an understanding of who I am is something I struggle with, and seeing someone be unapologetically queer is so refreshing.” Jessica’s statement relates to the inspirational members currently in Harner’s group. Creating a network full of support and acceptance begins with inQUEERy at ASU.

Shortly, Harner is finishing their Ph.D. program and hopes to possibly find a faculty position that enables the continuation of research work within the non­binary community. In addition to Harner’s two professional publications, three more pieces of work are in the process of being published.

“It doesn’t always get better, but we can better learn to cope and navigate oppressive systems,” Harner said. “I would love to see ASU no longer have to rely on students as educators around trans competency.”

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