Community organization honors gender, sexual minority advocates for LGBTQI pride


Tuesday night, local LGBT non-profit Perceptions recognized and awarded several SVSU gender and sexual minority advocates at its sixth annual Pride Awards.

RSO Living Proud and SVSU staff member Monika Sciba were recognized as Champions of Pride. English instructor Charin Davenport was also presented the Rising Star Award.

The event was held in celebration of the 45th anniversary of Stonewall, a series of demonstrations by the LGBT community that occurred at the Stonewall Inn in New York City. It is often credited as being the first instance LGBT people fought back against government-sponsored persecution.

At the event, Living Proud was recognized for its efforts in aiming to provide a safe space where individuals are free to express their identities without judgment.

The group also raises awareness and funds for LGBT causes on the SVSU campus and in the community. In April, Living Proud raised $2,500 through its annual drag show for the Great Lakes Bay Area AIDS Walk, which will take place this year Saturday, Sept. 20 at Saginaw Valley’s campus in the President’s Courtyard.

“It was a big honor to be recognized by the local community,” said English senior and Living Proud President Shane Shepherd. “We’ve worked for many years to raise funds for the Tri-Cities AIDS Walk, and we appreciate the opportunity to be involved they plan with Perceptions in this and other events, including the annual holiday gala.”

Shepherd said the group plans to increase connections with the off-campus community and provide more opportunities for Living Proud members to meet with and learn from others in the LGBT community.

“There are many valuable resources that the university has been unable to provide, and Living Proud hopes to continue to be a bridge between the LGBT student body and the resources and network that community groups like Perceptions can provide.”

Sciba, the special assistant to the Dean’s Office of the College of Health and Human Services, was recognized for being a former adviser to Living Proud and her efforts to create an LGBTQI health care simulation program to help students in the health-related programs to be more sensitive to patients with LGBTQI needs.

The idea for this project resulted from a student intern telling the story of overhearing two health care professionals at their clinical site referring to a transgender patient as “It.”

Sciba said HHS College faculty and staff want to provide HHS students with the necessary skills to successfully prevent or manage this type of insensitivity in the workplace.

“Like many others at SVSU, I have been working to help all of our students, faculty and staff feel included, valued and respected,” Sciba said. “I am grateful  to Perceptions for recognizing my efforts and appreciating my work.”

Sciba also serves on SVSU’s LGBT Advisory Committee and the employee search committee as an inclusion advocate.

Davenport began her advocacy last year, and has since become a trans* activist for human rights and equality. She is also a speaker at public meetings in support of human right policies and ordinances in Bay County and the City of Saginaw.

“I’ve been involved in advocacy for a lot of issues over the years,” Davenport said. “When I learned that Michigan does not protect its LGBTQI residents from discrimination in the workplace, housing, health care and public accommodations, I became involved on the issue.”

She is also a Perceptions adviser and communications director for Transgender Michigan. She writes for several blogs and works closely with the Human Rights Campaign, National Center for Transgender Education and the American Civil Liberties Union.

“The award validates the hard work and the perseverance of a lot of trans people,” she said. “It wasn’t easy moving the argument into city halls and county chambers, but we did it.”

The Dow Chemical Company, Reverend Jeff Liebmann, Vice Chairman of the Bay County Board of Commissioners Don Tilley and Douglas Solosky were also presented with awards.

“We can all make a difference,” said Board of Trustees chair Chris Lauckner. “The honorees give evidence to that fact. I hope, after tonight, others are moved toward a deeper call to action by stepping out and recognizing ‘we are the possible,’ and together with our allies and friends, we can have a tremendous positive impact.”