Just last year the Gender and LGBTQIA Center and Truitt Center created the Spirit and Pride Initiative, a program that strives to create a bridge between gender and sexual identity and religion. In its first year on campus, this initiative has already started to get positive feedback.
Elon sophomore Anna Ditesheim is an intern with Spirit and Pride. She said that an important part of the initiative is helping students find resources.
“We hear from a lot of students how this is amazing because they can’t find this information anywhere,” Diteshein said. “Even if it’s not your story, someone has that same thought and is going through that same thing.”
Ditesheim said that the initiative had started from a “blank slate” when building out what the program's goals were, and how they would accomplish them.
“We started off with a really blank slate and were kind of like ‘okay what is this going to look like, what does this mean and how can it benefit the Elon community,’” Ditesheim said.
Last fall the initiative had a focus on Judaism, which lead them to host a Queer Haunakkah event. The event had food, drinks and resources for guests. The goal for this semester and beyond is to focus on a wide variety of religions.
Because of COVID-19 restrictions, the initiative has chosen to not host any events, and use this semester to plan future semesters. Sophomore intern Hayley Loftus is currently working on a program they plan to release in future.
“I am part of an initiative for the future that is a faith and informed ally training, so I have been doing research for that, ” Loftus said.
Along with planning they are also focusing a lot on the initiative's online presence, oth through Instagram and their new podcast “Queer and Divine”
Ditesheim co-hosts the podcast with Lily Kays, another Spirit and Pride intern. Kays, who joined the initiative this fall, came up with the idea for the podcast.
The goal for the podcast is for listeners to become more comfortable with their own identities. In order to achieve this, Kays said that they have prioritized getting people of different backgrounds and sexual identities to be guests on their show.
“They are all wildly and beautifully different, I am hoping that there will be a story that sticks out to each of our listeners,” Kays said.
Along with the podcast, the Spirit and Pride intern team uses Instagram as another platform to share their voice, providing educational resources for LGBTQIA students and allies.