CHADRON – Instead of hosting its annual conference, the Chadron State College Social Work senior class intends to produce a series of educational videos about the LGBTQ+ community and share it on USB drives in November. The purpose for the project is to decrease discrimination against members of the LGBTQ+ community.
The senior class assisted with last year’s conference and planned to carry on the 12-year tradition of hosting an in-person conference but changed their plans based on the pandemic.
The students in the class are Makayla Brown of Hershey, Neb., Katlyn Buss of Peetz, Colo., Celeste Cardona of Mitchell, Neb., Caprise Cominiello of Burlington, Colo., Kara DeCrocker of Minatare, Neb., Alyssa Jensen of Spearfish, S.D., Lydia Haselhorst of Randolph, Neb., Taylee Neefe of Hemingford, Neb., Paola Rodriguez of Marquette, Neb., Ariel Simbana of Ridgewood, N.Y., and Katelyn Wheeler of Imperial, Neb. teaches the class.
Past conference topics have included Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, sexual assault, drug abuse, sex trafficking, cancer, and discrimination. Professor Bruce Hoem has guided the planning of the conference since 2008 but purposefully takes a back seat so the students can learn first-hand about managing logistics and contingency plans, an approach Hoem has seen pay off in increased confidence for all students involved.
The students are working in four groups to design content for school counselors, teachers, parents, and students.
Simbana is in the parents’ group. He plans to record interviews with parents of children in elementary and middle school, while other group members will interview parents of older children.
Brown is in the school counselor group, and she will be interviewing middle school counselors and sharing their comments and advice.
Simbana said the class chose a topic they feel is important to discuss.
“It’s a relevant topic. We realize we are in a conservative state. We hope people will listen,” Simbana said.
Brown echoed Simbana’s hopes.
“Especially in a rural community, we want to try to get people to understand this topic that's going on right now in the world. Members of the LGBTQ plus community have been facing a lot of discrimination,” Brown said.
Students plan to highlight scenarios of individuals talking about their life experiences and explore appropriate ways to handle situations.
“For example, if they are lesbian, they would share their questions about that. We're going to try to answer them and talk about what they might be experiencing and reassure them that they're not alone in what they are feeling,” Brown said. “Since it's on a USB drive, our plan is for people to be able to make more copies and share the video.”
In addition to Chadron's public schools, the Social Work seniors plan to distribute USB drives to Western Nebraska Community College, Laramie County Community College, Pine Ridge Job Corps, and Project Strive.
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