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TEDxVillanovaUSalon: LGBT Inclusivity & Activism | VUHRD Thoughts

On Tuesday, February 7th, Katina Sawyer, Ph.D., Assistant Professor in VUHRD, led a TEDxVillanovaUSalon event on LGBT Inclusivity and Activism. Several VUHRD students and faculty members attended the event with many others from the Villanova community. During the event, guests watched a TED Talk by IO Tillet Wright, Fifty Shades of Gay, and then joined in a conversation with Dr. Sawyer on LGBT Inclusivity.

Dr. Sawyer has conducted research that focuses on the work-family conflict experiences of LGBT individuals in organizations. In Challenging Heteronormative and Gendered Assumptions in Work-Family Research, Dr. Sawyer and her colleagues argue that LGBT discrimination creates disconnects between the work and family domains of LGBT individuals, restricting their ability to freely mix elements of their work and family lives like their heterosexual peers.

Here are some of the reactions of VUHRD students and faculty on the TED talk and the discussion led by Dr. Sawyer.


"I found the psychology behind the discussion very interesting--the idea that we are neurologically wired to connect with people like us and that we seek to categorize people into boxes. It's easier this way, right? If we can put someone into a particular category, we feel as though we have a better understanding of who that person is. And while categorization is sometimes necessary in life, it can also be quite dangerous when the labels we place on people determine their rights. IO Tillett Wright shared in her TED talk video that more than half of this country can be fired just because of sexuality. Boxes do not accurately define who people are, and this is why it is crucial to understand the individuals behind these labels. Human beings are not one dimensional. Understanding people for more than the identities they represent makes it harder to deny human rights."

--Rita Snell, VUHRD Graduate Assistant


"I think what was the most impactful for me was talking about the importance of being a resource for people and being willing to talk about and understand what they're going through without being judgmental. I also really liked the photo project that the TED speaker did. Showing all the faces of people who don't fit in the traditional, black and white idea of sexuality or gender roles - they look just like everyone else, because they are just like everyone else. I think it was an incredible learning experience for everyone involved and I hope the world becomes a more connected and understanding place so we can have conversations like at this TEDx!"

--Hannah Parker Carver, VUHRD Graduate Assistant


"The use of black and white photography was an unusual choice given that she was attempting to portray the humanity of these people. However, her use of lighting and the pictures that she used (possibly chosen by the individuals) really were engaging. The point that I got from the pictures was that these people are no different than anyone else that you might know and they should be treated that way. It made me think of who I know that might identify in a different way along the continuum from straight to gay/queer where I am not aware of how they identify. How might I be treating them? The challenge that I have is how can we as HR professionals open discussions like this in our workplace?"

--Larry Cozzens, Ph.D., VUHRD Assistant Director & Assistant Professor


Watch the TED talk by IO Tillet Wright and keep the conversation going! What did you think of the talk? How can we as HR professionals start discussions like this in our workplace? What are we doing to ensure the inclusivity of our LGBT employees?

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