Students this spring sought to understand and center the lived experiences of LGBTQ+ students in the School of Social Work through a survey and published project as part of SW 639: GLBT Individuals and Social Welfare (taught by Dr. Lynette Studer). The result is class-produced zine, Narratives of LGBTQ + Community at UW-Madison’s School of Social Work, which includes sections on the importance and use of pronouns, recognition of historic social justice leaders, terms to know, general background information about the context for individuals who identify as queer, and perhaps most strikingly, quotations from students in the school themselves, such as:
Favorite thing about being LGBTQ+
I have never felt as authentically accepted and true to myself. Communication is fair, loving, egalitarian. There’s so much love and joy.
What has your experience been as an LGBTQ+ student at the UW-Madison School of Social Work?
Sometimes I feel invisible in the school as a whole because of the lack of representation around campus.
What is something you would like to say to social work students, faculty, and professionals beyond our school?
We are in your classroom, so acknowledge us. We aren’t just clients or subject of your research. We are real life human beings who work with you, surround you.
In creating the zine, students tasked themselves to challenge oppressions as they relate to homonormativity and heterosexim within the school and raise the voices of the queer community. The original intent was to create and place lasting art installations around the school building, but when the Covid-19 pandemic hit, students had to adapt to new forms of raising visibility.
Students sent the survey to all social work students as well as students who took social work classes over the course of three weeks. They received 49 responses. The final product represents a distilled version of narratives highlighting the experiences within the school. The project was also shared with leadership at the school.
“Our hope is to begin to challenge the power dynamic of privilege on behalf of the queer community,” students explained.
In addition to sharing this zine on the school’s website and social media, students hope artwork from the project can be placed around the school in the future and become incorporated into future school orientations.
Take a look at the full zine, Narratives of LGBTQ + Community at UW-Madison’s School of Social Work.