Visible Voices is an educational program that is styled as a speakers bureau (panel) made up of CSU students, staff, faculty, and community members who volunteer to share about their experiences and coming out stories. This popular program has been a valuable educational tool used to inform students about the often times misunderstood issues surrounding gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender youth and their families. Our volunteers have spoken in classrooms, residence halls, churches, and other arenas.
Scroll down to request a panel or volunteer with us!
Goals of the Visible Voices Program
- to educate the Colorado State University community and the public about what it means to be gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex or an ally of LGBTQ+ people and communities;
- to dispel myths and stereotypes about LGBTQ+ people;
- to build understanding and acceptance through open and honest dialogue;
- to provide positive role models of LGBTQ+ people and allies and to let other LGBTQ+ people and allies know that they are not alone;
- to present information about LGBTQ+ people in a non-threatening, nonjudgmental atmosphere;
- to offer LGBTQ+ and heterosexual/cisgender ally-identified students, staff, faculty, and community members an opportunity for self-growth and training in leadership skills, such as public speaking.
- to challenge participants so that they may gain a greater level of understanding which helps them to actively consider what it is they believe and why and how they came to accept these beliefs.
WHAT TO EXPECT FROM A VISIBLE VOICES PANEL
- Panels typically consist of two to four people, who are part of the LGBTQ+ or ally communities. One of the volunteers will write information on the board about the Pride Resource Center, any pertinent announcements, and the panelists’ names.
- The panels consist of five separate segments: personal introductions, introduction to the Pride Resource Center, coming out stories, Q & A, and evaluations. This provides a structure for the group we speak with and the panelists.
- We distribute blank index cards, and then ask for all of them to be turned in. This helps people feel comfortable asking us questions, and we can be good stewards of the planet by not wasting all of the unused index cards.
In Others’ Words…
Here are a few takeaways from those who participated as audience members:
“The [panelists] were outstanding as well as the presentation. Their personal stories are so powerful. My students responded in a powerful way and were very appreciative. I can’t thank you enough, and I will be in touch again. My students appreciated their honesty, their humor and their very personal stories. Thank you.
“Coming out is an ongoing process, and every story is different.”
“The panel is helpful to my students in adding to their overall understanding of how to support all students in their future classrooms.”
“Their presentations and discussion were both highly informative and meaningful. My students expressed having learned a great deal… and said that the Visible Voices Program is both important and valuable.”
I Want to Volunteer!
We are not currently looking for volunteers at this time. Keep an eye out for an announcement later in the semester.
If you have any questions about volunteering with Visible Voices, please contact GLBT_StudentServices@mail.colostate.edu
I Want to request a panel!
We’re glad you are interested in hosting a panel. Panels are a great fit for classrooms, churches, residence halls, staff trainings, and other opportunities in which participants could benefit from asking questions directly to LGBTQ+ community members. We offer a 45 minute and 75 minute option to fit class schedules.
We ask that you submit a request form at least three weeks out from the date requested and include any specific information that would be helpful for our volunteers to know so that we can best tailor our content to your curriculum or audience. We will do our best to follow up with you within three business days of submitting a request form.
As a panel requester, we see you as a partner in setting up an environment conducive to learning and supports the Principles of Community. While our panels are self-facilitated, we ask that the requesting party ensure a staff, faculty, or student leader be present to assist with engaging and interrupting any bias that may occur while we are guests in your space. Examples of incidents of bias include, but are not limited to any activity that intimidates, demeans, mocks, degrades, marginalizes, or threatens individuals or groups based on that individual’s or group’s actual or perceived identities (ability, age, ancestry, citizenship or immigration status, ethnicity, gender identity, gender expression, parenting and pregnancy status, race, religious practice, sexual orientation, veteran status, creed, color). Our volunteers will work to answer all questions from an educational lens, and can opt to not answer any question they choose. If you have questions about this expectation, please email our Assistant Director at Maggie.firstname.lastname@example.org.