CSU LGBTQIA2S+ Student Success Symposium Schedule

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Director's Welcome Address

Dear Attendees,

Larissa Mercado-LopezOn behalf of the CSU Student Success Network (Network), I would like to welcome you to the CSU LGBTQIA2S+ Student Success Symposium! This event was organized in response to a call that emerged from a plenary featuring CSU gender center coordinators and LGBTQIA2S+ students in the CSU during our 2022 Network Student Success Conference. The Network is an independent entity facilitated by the Education Insights Center (EdInsights), which is housed at Sacramento State

Recognizing the historical and ongoing attacks on LGBTQIA2S+ people across our legal, social, and educational landscapes, the Network sought to begin a conversation about the intentional inclusion of gender and sexuality in the ways that campuses are thinking about and working on student success. The Network has held a sustained focus on equity since its inception and is interested in how institutional data can be ethically collected and used to expand how institutions are thinking about equity, particularly at the intersections of gender, sexuality, sexual expression, and race. This focus on institutional data is strongly reflected in the symposium. 

The goals for the symposium are to start a conversation among CSU staff, faculty, and students on LGBTQIA2S+ student success; provide a space for connecting with other advocates, practitioners, and researchers across the system; and serve as a venue for initial and ongoing engagement in the Network. 

On Day One, Network members and speakers from across the CSU will share research and experiences on LGBTQIA2S+ student servingness and teaching. These conversations will prepare attendees for Day Two, where we will learn from student voices and engage in structured conversations around identified priorities. The goal is to organize attendees into communities of practice that will work together on concrete action items that promote LGBTQIA2S+ student equity and servingness. The Network will host 2-3 virtual gatherings throughout the summer and fall of 2024 to bring the communities of practice together to offer support and learn from each other. 

As with many of our activities, this symposium amplifies the voices of those who have previously engaged with the Network to share their expertise and work with LGBTQIA2S+ students. Aside from speaking during the Symposium, Network members also authored memos on LGBTQIA2S+ issues within the CSU, which can be found in the Knowledge Center on our website. We recognize that the Network is only as strong and effective as the voices that are represented and encourage all attendees to stay connected to and engaged with the Network! 

I’d like to thank the organizing committee for all their work to organize this symposium during a particularly challenging time: 

Ántonia K. Peigahi (She/They), Sacramento State

Nat Betancourt (They/Them), CSU Fullerton

Mary Virnoche (She/Her), Cal Poly Humboldt

Tiffany Northern (She/Her), Sacramento State

Finally, thank you to the EdInsights team that provided strong and ongoing support throughout the planning process, and a special thank you to our funders and supporters, the State of California, EdInsights, and Sacramento State!


Larissa Mercado-López, Ph.D., Symposium Director (She/Her)

Professor of Women’s, Gender & Sexuality Studies, Fresno State


Thursday, March 7

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Breakfast and Check In || 8:00-9:00am
Welcome || 9:00-9:15am
Plenary 1: "The Social and Political Landscape of Higher Education for LGBTQIA2S+ Students in the CSU" || 9:15-10:15am

This context-setting conversation will address the various social, political, and educational landscapes that LGBTQIA2S+ students are navigating during their degree completion journeys in the CSU.


Vinnie Pompei, Ed.D., Assistant Professor of Educational Leadership, San Diego State University

Vincent Pompei is an assistant professor in educational leadership at San Diego State. Prior to joining SDSU, he spent nearly a decade as the National Director of Youth Well-Being Programming at the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest civil rights organization dedicated to LGBTQ+ equality. His research interests include student mental wellness, identity safe schools, culturally responsive pedagogy, and creating LGBTQ+ inclusive environments. Pompei is the lead author of numerous educational resources, including the California LGBTQ Youth Report, Supporting LGBTQ Students with Disabilities, and the LGBTQ section of the American School Counselor Association’s National Model. He served as President of the California Association of School Counselors, was a Cadre Trainer for the National Education Association, and worked in K-12 public education for 10 years. Pompei’s dedication to creating safe, inclusive, and affirming schools has been acknowledged by the U.S. Department of Education, the National Education Association, the California PTA, and Equality California.   

Larissa Mercado-López, Ph.D., Professor and Department Chair of Women’s, Gender & Sexuality Studies, Fresno State

Larissa Mercado-LopezLarissa M. Mercado-López is a professor of Women’s Studies at California State University, Fresno, where she teaches courses on women of color feminisms and engages in proactive mentorship. Within the Student Success Network, Larissa serves as Conference Director for the CSU Student Success Conference. Her academic scholarship is in the fields of Chicana feminism and Literature, and her campus service focuses on researching and improving the student parent population and the Latina PhD pipeline. Larissa is committed to public scholarship and serves as a Senior Editor for the National Center for Institutional Diversity Public Scholarship Initiative at the University of Michigan.



Bonnie Sugiyama (them/them/she/her), Director, PRIDE Center & Gender Equity Center, San José State University


Break || 10:15-10:30am
Session 1A: "Somewhere under the Double Rainbow: Preparing to Support LGBTQIA2S+ Neurodivergent Students" || 10:30-11:45am

This presentation will explore the intersectionality of LGBTQ+ identity and neurodivergency through a discussion of terminology and research related to these intersections. The speaker will discuss what CSUs can do inside and outside the classroom to better support LGBTQIA2S+ neurodivergent students.


Vanessa Zepeda, Lecturer, CSU Bakersfield

Vanessa Zepeda, M. Ed (she/they/ella) is an Adjunct Professor for the Liberal Studies Department for CSU Bakersfield, Moderate/Severe Special Education Teacher, Cadre Trainer in LGBTQ+ Advocacy for California Teachers Association (CTA), Basketball Coach, and LGBTQ+ Student Club Advisor at CSU Bakersfield. She is a seasoned presenter at the CTA LGBTQ+ Issues Conference where she presented on “Neurodivergent Queer Students and Individuals”, and “How to Support LGBTQ+ Students in School”. She has also presented at the California Chapter of National Associations of Multicultural Education (NAME) conference on “How to Support LGBTQ+ Students in Schools”.



Session 1B: "Support for 2SLGBTQIA+ Students: Creating Belongingness Through Campus Pride Centers"|| 10:30-11:45am

Despite increased visibility and representation within institutions of higher learning, 2SLGBTQIA+ (Two-Spirit, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer or Questioning, Intersex, Asexual) students continue to face challenges completing their degrees. This presentation discusses a Network memo that examines the literature associated with Pride centers, a common tool used to support the academic and personal success of 2SLGBTQIA+, queer and transgender students. It also provides a review of the 23 campuses within the California State University System to analyze the presence of Pride centers; the availability of full-time staff dedicated to supporting 2SLGBTQIA+ students; and the programs, services, and resources offered to the 2SLGBTQIA+ community.


Kay Wong, Pride Center Director, San Diego State University

Kay Wong (they/them) is a queer, mixed-race individual, currently serving as the San Diego State University Pride Center Director. Their academic life includes a bachelors in Communication Studies from Colorado State University and a masters in Higher Education and Student Affairs from University of Connecticut. Kay has a variety of professional experiences including university housing and cultural centers within university settings. During peak COVID-19 times, Kay worked in a hospital as a Behavioral Health Specialist and Social Worker utilizing trauma-informed care. Prior to starting as Director, Kay served in the Coordinator and Assistant Director positions. Outside of work, Kay can be found laughing outdoors and competing on a competitive dragon boat club team.



Lunch || 11:45-1:15pm
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Plenary 2: "Navigating the SOGI Demographic Data Quagmire" || 1:15-2:30 pm

It’s been 13 years since California Assembly Bill 620 passed and consequently “requested” actions from the Trustees of the California State University, the Regents of the University of California, and the governing board of each community college district. One of the requests was to allow the faculty, staff, and students to identify their sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression on any forms used to collect that demographic data, as appropriate.

Six years later the California Gender Recognition Act was signed into law (CA Senate Bill 170, 2017) which allowed CA citizens to change their gender on a new birth certificate to be female, male, or nonbinary. We now live in a demographic quagmire for sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, and gender expression. In this presentation, we will unravel how we got here, what is currently happening, and where we might be going.


Michael Le, Director, ITS Institutional Research, Analytics, and Reporting, Cal Poly Humboldt

Michael ‘Data’ Le is a higher education information technology leader and researcher by day, but by night, he is a data evangelist with a passion for visual analytics and sharing information to create a data-informed democracy. Mike has worked with distinction in the field of Institutional Research/Effectiveness for more than a decade in both public 2-year and 4-year institutions. At Cal Poly Humboldt, Mike serves as the Director, ITS Institutional Research, Analytics, and Reporting. In this role, Mike serves on the Gender Diversity Task Force.



Break || 2:30-2:45 pm
Session 2A: “Meeting Basic Needs: A Review of the CSU System's Programs Supporting LGBTQIA2S+ Students' Well-being and a Proposal for Enhancement” || 2:45-4:00 pm

In light of the CSU’s ongoing commitment to addressing equity gaps, this presentation, based on a memo published by the CSU Student Success Network, addresses the unique challenges faced by LGBTQIA2S+ students within the system. Drawing from recent studies, this presentation explores three pivotal areas of concern that have been identified regarding the support needed for LGBTQIA2S+ students on our campuses.


Michael Pratt, Admissions Coordinator for Graduate Studies, Chico State

Michael is the Admissions Coordinator for Graduate Studies at Chico State and holds a Master of Public Administration. He is currently preparing for an MS in Data Science and Analytics, before pursuing a PhD in Public Policy. With over 14 years spent in higher education, Michael has been instrumental in creating Chico State’s Hungry Wildcat Food Pantry, Dream Center, and Affinity Group Retention Centers. He’s been elected to numerous roles including AS President at Chico State as well as Vice President of University Affairs for the California State Student Association. He currently serves as the President of the LGBTQ+ Faculty and Staff Association at Chico State and advises various student organizations including Chico State Pride, the MPA Professional Association, and the Council of Graduate Students.



Session 2B: "Improving LGBTQIA2S+/SOGI Demographic Data Collection within the CSU Using a QuantCrit Framework" || 2:45-4:00pm

A Quantitative Critical Theory (QuantCrit) framework, rooted within Critical Race Theory, recognizes that numbers alone do not capture the complex social, cultural, and historical contexts that shape our students’ experiences. QuantCrit challenges us to move beyond surface-level statistics and delve deeper into the qualitative aspects of students’ lives while keeping a social justice and equity-oriented mindset.

This presentation, based on a memo published by the Network, brings forth key challenges with SOGI demographic data collection and explores other approaches used to understand the experiences of LGBTQIA2S+ students, using a QuantCrit lens. The hope is to contribute to ongoing conversations within the CSU community about enhancing policies and practices to better recognize, support, and empower our LGBTQIA2S+ populations.


Kailey Jo (KJ) Palmer, Academic Advisor, Cal State East Bay

Kailey Jo (KJ) Palmer (they/she) is an Academic Advisor at Cal State East Bay. They are a graduate student in the Higher Education Leadership, M.A. program at San José State University. While still in development, their research is guided by an equity-minded approach and incorporates QueerCrit and QuantCrit epistemological frameworks. KJ is dedicated to amplifying the voices of those with multiple marginalized identities. In their recent work, they focused on exploring the perspectives of LGBTQ+ undergraduate students of color and aspires to further delve into this area in future research.



Break || 4:00-4:15 pm
Plenary 3: "Queer Pedagogies: Teaching LGBTQIA2S+ Students and Content in the CSU"|| 4:15-5:30 pm

Educators across the CSU will engage in conversation around the challenges, opportunities, and joys of teaching LGBTQIA2S+ students, content, and classes.


Nathian Rodriguez, Ph.D., Director, Associate Professor of Digital Media, San Diego State University

Nathian Shae Rodriguez is an Associate Professor of Digital Media and the Associate Director of the School of Journalism & Media Studies at San Diego State University. He is also a core faculty in the Area of Excellence: Digital Humanities and Global Diversity, a public speaker, and podcast host. Dr. Rodriguez specializes in critical-cultural and digital media studies, critical communication pedagogy, and pop culture pedagogy. His research focuses on minority representation in media, specifically LGBTQ and Latinx/e portrayals and intersectional identity negotiation, as well as pop culture, identity, radio broadcasting, and issues of masculinity/mascing. Dr. Rodriguez also has 10 years of professional radio experience in on-air talent, sales, promotions, and social media marketing.


Tyler Argüello, Professor of Social Work and the Director of the School of Social Work, Sacramento State

Tyler M. Argüello (he/él/they/elle) is a Queer, gay, White, and nonbinary practivist, that is, scholar-activist, who has been a practicing clinical social worker for over 29 years, primarily around community mental health, HIV, 2LGBTQIAPK+ communities, and substance use. He is the author of Queer Social Work (2019) and several Queer/critical theory driven projects and publications. Currently, he is a Professor in and the Director of the School of Social Work at the California State University, Sacramento. Dr. Argüello maintains a recognized psychotherapy practice, consults with state and national organizations, is a licensed independent clinical social worker, and is a Diplomate in Clinical Social Work.



Joanna Núñez, Assistant Professor, Department of Women’s and Gender Studies, Sacramento State

Joanna Núñez is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Women’s and Gender Studies at California State University, Sacramento. She is a queer Chicana feminist activist scholar. She is the proud daughter of immigrant parents from Baja California, Mexico. She received her B.A. in Women’s Studies and Social Work from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and her Ph.D. in Feminist Studies at the University of Minnesota. Her primary research areas include feminist and queer mothering, Jotería histories, and Chicana feminist epistemologies and pedagogies. Her work explores the connection between home and intimate community building practices in facilitating movements for social transformation. Her most recent publications can be found in The Handbook of Latinos in Education and Transmovimientos: Latinx Queer Migrations, Bodies, and Spaces.


Robert D. Jiles, Assistant Professor, African American Studies, Chico State

Robert D. Jiles (he/him/his) is an Assistant Professor of African American Studies in the department of Multicultural and Gender Studies at Chico State. Currently, he is the faculty advisor for the Black Student Union where he enjoys working with students. His research interests include African American history and culture, black queer studies, internet studies, and visual culture. An overall focus is on inter and intra group politics in black communities. His work on black sexuality is a continuation of his dissertation research. It examines how black gay and bisexual men use internet technology to create and view visual images in web series and short films that represent their everyday lived experiences. The work further considers how their visual stories articulate broader notions of blackness and community.

Setting Priorities for Day 2 || 5:30-6:00 pm
Dinner || 6:00-8:00pm

Friday, March 8

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Breakfast and Check In || 8:00-9:00am
Keynote Address: "A Rainbow Bridge: Queering HSIs para todes!" || 9:00-10:15am


Ángel de Jesus González, Ed.D, Assistant Professor of Higher Education Administration and Leadership, Fresno State

Ángel de Jesus González, (he/they/elle) is an Assistant Professor of Higher Education Administration and Leadership (HEAL) at Fresno State University. As a first-generation queer, Latinx, joto, they engage their scholarship through post-structuralist and transformative paradigms rooted in Xicana/Latina feminists epistemologies. Dr. González’s research agenda focuses on three strands; 1) examining the conditions, experiences, and outcomes for queer and/or trans communities; 2) Latinx Leadership and organizational change; and 3) racial equity policy implementation all within the community college context.

Break || 10:15-10:30am
Student Plenary || 10:30-11:45am

From the challenges to the joys, students will discuss their experiences as LGBTQIA2S+ students in the CSU. The students will issue calls to attendees and the CSU to improve visibility, support, opportunities, and education for LGBTQIA2S+ students pursuing their degrees. 


Jacqueline Leaño, Ed.D, Clinical Mental Health Counseling Graduate Student, CSU Fullerton

Yumi Aguilar, Engineering Management Masters Student, Cal Poly SLO

Yumi Aguilar (they/them) is a 6th year blended masters student at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. Yumi is graduating in June 2024 with an Industrial Engineering B.S. and Engineering Management M.S. with minors in Psychology and Gender, Race, Culture, Science and Technology. They have been involved in several queer organizations at Cal Poly including the Pride Center (student assistant), Pride student living (resident advisor), Transgender and Queer Student Union (co-founder), and CP Drag Club (production manager). During their time at Cal Poly, Yumi has been involved in activism and STS research. In their free time, they enjoy board games with friends, crafting, and Dungeons and Dragons.



Maya Thurmond, Student, California State University, Fresno

Maya Thurmond (She/Her) is a Junior at California State University, Fresno, working towards a Bachelor of Kinesiology with a focus in Exercise Science. Upon graduation Maya aspires to earn a Doctorate of Occupational Therapy. In the past Maya has participated in an internship with LEAP, a literacy program for Richmond residents and volunteered at Heart of the Horse, an equine therapy ranch for children in Fresno. Maya currently works at Fresno State’s Cross Cultural and Gender Center as a student assistant for Gender Programs and Services. Through this position she works to create welcoming events that educate students and the community on gender equity. In her free time Maya loves to explore Fresno and try new restaurants.


Lunch || 11:45-1:30pm
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Organizing Around Priorities || 1:30-2:45pm

In these sessions, attendees will come together to discuss current efforts underway at their campuses to support LGBTQIA2S+ student equity and identify priorities for improving LGBTQIA2S+ student equity, education, and wellness.

Attendees who wish to continue to be in conversation with LGBTQIA2S+ advocates across the system will choose a community of practice related to one of the identified priorities. The Network will host three webinars throughout the year to provide continued support for the communities of practice that emerge from the symposium.


Break || 2:45-3:00pm
Organizing Around Priorities || 3:00-4:15pm

In these sessions, attendees will come together to discuss current efforts underway at their campuses to support LGBTQIA2S+ student equity and identify priorities for improving LGBTQIA2S+ student equity, education, and wellness.

Attendees who wish to continue to be in conversation with LGBTQIA2S+ advocates across the system will choose a community of practice related to one of the identified priorities. The Network will host three webinars throughout the year to provide continued support for the communities of practice that emerge from the symposium.



Wrap Up, Evaluation, Meditation || 4:30-5:00pm


Contact: Larissa Mercado-López, Symposium Director