For decades, psychologists conducted research comparing same-gender parenting couples to different-gender parenting couples, finding “no difference.” However, they were really investigating the claim that same-gender parents wouldn’t provide their children the proper development that straight parents would. In more recent years, researchers have been finding that there are differences, and almost all of them seem to show that there are benefits to having same-gender parents. No psychologists have provided a halfway decent explanation for these differences.
This research piqued my interest, and I wanted to investigate the “why?” I was originally going to be doing semi-structured interviews with same-gender and different-gender parenting couples, asking them about their views on parenting and building a family, and then I would compare the data. This was already a large undertaking for several reasons, and then our beloved psychology professor, Teo, announced he would be leaving Antioch. Teo was going to supervise the project, and offered to give limited supervision anyway, despite his relocation. We modified the plan to try and accommodate, but my co-op professor Beth Bridgeman suggested that I at least get in touch with Brooke Blackmon Bryan, who is, among her many other roles, dean of cooperative education.
Brooke offered to supervise my project, but emphasized that she is not a psychologist. This had different meanings for the project. Brooke said we could keep the project as is, but also offered to help me tie it in with the Antiochiana archival project, turning it into an oral history project that I could then come back to and use as data for my future senior project. I decided to go ahead and change the project slightly to fit with Antiochiana, so that I would instead be interviewing LGBTQ+ Antioch alumni about their experiences, and how Antioch and its culture affected them as LGBTQ+ individuals.
Antiochiana includes the archives and “special collections” of Antioch’s history, and this project will make up a small but important part of those archives. I’ve been emailing, direct messaging, and calling LGBTQ+ alumni over the last month, and I finally got to do my first interview last Friday. The questions cover everything from their early life before coming to Antioch, to their experiences on campus, their experiences on co-op, and how it affects them beyond graduation, if at all. What I’m really curious about is whether or not being a part of such a (sometimes) radically progressive campus has a positive impact on us as LGBTQ+ people, or if the nay-sayers are right in some ways–that living in what some may call a “bubble” or “echo chamber” does not prepare you for the “real world.” So far, this doesn’t seem to be the case.
Brooke helped me draft the questions, and submit the necessary paperwork to the institutional review board (IRB). Soon, I’ll start transcribing the interviews, and all of them will be available indefinitely on the ohla.info repository website. As I mentioned before, I plan to use the interviews as data for my senior project, and I hope that it might be helpful in some way for other future LGBTQ+ research; but it is also my hope that these interviews will provide to others what my first interview has already provided for me–validation, a feeling of connection with those who came before us, and confidence in our ability to bring change, as the next generation of queer people and queer Antiochians.
This winter I’ve had the opportunity to serve as the Special Projects Coordinator at Miami Township Fire-Rescue (MTFR), located in Yellow Springs. MTFR is mostly a volunteer-based department that provides “Advanced Life Support (ALS) emergency medical transportation, fire prevention and suppression, rescue services, and safety education to the residents and over 1 million annual visitors” of Miami Township, as stated on their website, mtfr.org. My position allows me to observe and gain hands-on experience in many different aspects of life at the station—from the day-to-day maintenance of the emergency vehicles to even riding along on whatever emergency calls may come in during my shift, which may include fire, emergency medical or rescue incidents. On a typical day, I’ll ride along on one or two emergency calls, assisting with things like moving patients and operating the stretcher. I work at the station during the day, and in the evenings I go to Clark State for EMT classes. When I complete the course in the spring, I’ll continue working at MTFR as a volunteer EMT. Given what a fulfilling experience it has been working at MTFR, I may also go on to attempt to earn my firefighter or paramedic credentials, so that I can continue to become more involved.
Working at MTFR is fulfilling because of the clear impact the station has on the community. Whether it is helping an older resident up from a fall or responding to a dangerous car crash, the community relies on these firefighters, EMTs and paramedics. It aligns with my educational goals because my degree has a biomedical focus. Most undergraduate opportunities in the field revolve around research, but I have always been more interested in the actual practice of medicine. Therefore, I cannot imagine a co-op more perfect for my specific career goals and interests.
Header photo courtesy of mtfr.org.