Learn More Series
Each year, we devote ourselves to investigating a single topic of social importance through our Learn More Series. This signature series features nationally renowned speakers, workshops, panel discussions, film screenings, reading groups, and many other forms of engagement spanning the entire academic year.
Through this rigorous exploration, BU D&I seeks to spark new learning, catalyze important conversations, and equip faculty, staff, and students with tools to turn theory into action. Understanding that we are stronger in community, we invite and actively encourage BU community members to help shape the series each year through working groups and grant-funded projects. Get involved by applying for a Learn More Community Grant or Learn More Research Grant!
Scroll down to see a listing of upcoming Learn More Series events and come back to this page to find ongoing updates. To explore past years’ events, visit our events archive.
The 2022–23 Annual Theme: LGBTQIA+ Identity & Experiences
This year, we are exploring the many facets of LGBTQIA+ community, culture, identity, experiences, and history. This year’s featured speaker events are co-sponsored by the LGBTQIA+ Center for Faculty & Staff. Expand each section below to see what we’re planning this year.
To kick off the year, we’re excited to welcome Porsha Olayiwola, the City of Boston Poet Laureate, as our first featured speaker of the year for There Will Be Queer People in the Future. Join us on Charles River Campus on September 22, 12-1 pm in the GSU Small Ballroom (775 Commonwealth Ave, floor 2). This event is co-sponsored by the LGBTQIA+ Center for Faculty & Staff.
On Wednesdays from 6:30-7:30 pm, September 14 through November 16, LGBTQIA+ students are invited to join Overcoming Family Challenges: A Student Support Group led in partnership by BU Sexual Assault Response and Prevention Center (SARP), the student organization Together Estranged (TE), and the Queer Activist Collective. Supported in part by BU D&I’s Learn More Programming Grant, these sessions will be led by clinician Mae Petti, who will create a space for processing experiences of estrangement and share tactics to build resilience.
If the silencing of queer voices in school curricula tells us anything, it is this: History matters. On October 7, 12-1:45 pm, tune into Queer History IS American History: Historical Perspectives on LGBTQIA+ Identity and Experience, a Zoom panel discussion about the erasure of queer histories featuring scholars and authors Kai Pyle (University of Illinois), Greta LaFleur (Yale University), Khary Polk (Amherst College), and Michal Bronski (Harvard University).
Activists have described it as civil rights whiplash: Despite the progress in LGBTQIA+ rights, visibility, and acceptance in this new century, a wave of transphobia and homophobia is sweeping the nation, with more than 200 pieces of anti-LGBTQIA+ legislation have been introduced in 36 states. On October 26, 12-1:45 pm, join us for the panel discussion “We’re Not Going Back”: Protecting and Advancing LGBTQIA+ Rights in 2022, where leading voices in LGBTQIA+ activism will unpack the current state of LGBTQIA+ laws and rights, and share what we can do to protect and advance those rights in the future. This event is co-sponsored by the LGBTQIA+ Center for Faculty & Staff.
On November 10, 12-1:45 pm, “A” is for Asexual Liberation: Centering Ace & Aro Identities, Deconstructing Compulsory Sexuality, and Creating a Movement brings together two thought leaders, activist David Jay, and journalist Angela Chen, for a Learn More Series In Conversation event about asexual and aromantic identity, history, movements, and culture. This event is co-sponsored by the LGBTQIA+ Center for Faculty & Staff.
Join us for another Learn More Series In Conversation event, Queerfolk, Transfolk, Fatfolk, Blackfolk: Intersections of Queer and Black Identities on November 30 at 12:30 pm. The conversation will focus on intersections of queerness and Blackness, with two visionaries who are pushing the boundaries of queer Black activism: Sean Saifa Wall, co-founder of the Intersex Justice Project, and Da’Shaun L. Harrison, author of Belly of the Beast: The Politics of Anti-Fatness as Anti-Blackness. This event is co-sponsored by the LGBTQIA+ Center for Faculty & Staff.
Join us for a powerhouse kickoff to the second semester of the Learn More Series, as we welcome trans-Black Hollywood star lea robinson for a keynote luncheon on Queering Higher Ed, Queering Hollywood. From their leading role supporting queer college students to their leading role in the Amazon hit series A League of Their Own, lea robinson (they/them) has been at the forefront of disrupting gender binaries and pushing for visibility in spaces that historically have erased queer and trans people of color. A rising star who identifies as a trans, queer, non-binary, butch, and multi-racial actor, lea (pronounced “lee”) burst on the Hollywood scene playing A League of Their Own’s Bertie Hart, a trans-Black man living in the 1940s. But long before lea’s rise in Hollywood, they championed QTBIPOC students as a higher ed administrator at Columbia University and UC Berkeley. Sponsored by BU Diversity & Inclusion and the LGBTQIA+ Center for Faculty & Staff.
On February 2, 12 – 1:30pm, What’s So Dangerous About a Picture Book?: Book Bans and Queer Resistance in Children’s and YA Literature takes a deep dive into the attack on LGBTQIA-affirming books with a star panel of queer and trans book creators. Ten years ago, children’s and YA literature with queer or trans themes accounted for less than 20% of banned or challenged books in the US. Today they make up more than 75%. This noon-time panel is the first of a two-part celebration of LGBTQIA+ themes in the kid-lit world. Sponsored by BU Diversity & Inclusion and the LGBTQIA+ Center for Faculty & Staff. Click here to register for this event.
Also on the same day at 5:00 PM – 6:30 PM, Banned Books Storytime Marathon will rejoice in banned picture books and YA fiction featuring LGBTQIA+ voices. We’ll have cookies, tea, hot chocolate (with marshmallows, obv), then end it all with a pizza party dinner. All readers will get a free copy of either the YA bestseller Flamer or the eye-catching board book The Pronoun Book. Sponsored by BU Diversity & Inclusion, the LGBTQIA+ Center for Faculty & Staff, and the Howard Thurman Center for Common Ground. Click here to register for this event.
From juvenile detention to arrest rates to incarceration, the LGBTQIA+ population is overrepresented at every stage of the criminal justice system. This is especially true for queer and trans women of color, immigrants, and disabled people. On February 28, 12–1:45 pm, join us for At Every Stage of the System: The Criminalization and Over-Incarceration of LGBTQIA+ People for a hard-hitting, intersectionality-focused conversation on the queer and trans prison abolition movement. Sponsored by BU Diversity & Inclusion and the LGBTQIA+ Center for Faculty & Staff. Click here to register for this event.
In October 2022, the Portraits of Pride project was launched to commemorate LGBTQ History Month, with an installation of larger-than-life photo portraits highlighting 19 remarkable Boston leaders. Now, four months after the portraits were vandalized, a special edition of the installation is headed to BU. Join us on March 28, 4:30–6:30 pm, for Portraits of Pride: A Celebration of Queer and Trans Lives in Boston, to celebrate an exhibition of Portraits of Pride in the GSU 2nd-floor exhibition space. The event will include a reception and a panel with Portraits of Pride honorees, moderated by WBUR Arts Engagement Producer Arielle Gray. Sponsored by BU Diversity & Inclusion and the LGBTQIA+ Center for Faculty & Staff. Click here to register for this event.
Fragmentos will be a night of queer BIPOC storytelling through photography hosted by Charcoal magazine. The event will take place at the Howard Thurman Center on April 6, 2023, 7—9 pm, and it will consist of an exhibition of portraits of queer BIPOC students, with special pop-up performances by queer local artists. The event aims at highlighting our students’ unique experiences and perspectives through photography and writing: stories of discovering and embracing who they are; growing up in different environments; finding their own community; and asserting their multiple identities and their voices at Boston University and beyond.
The 2023–24 Annual Theme: Indigenous Identities and Experiences
We will explore the many facets of Indigenous culture, identity, experiences, and history. Check back for further details about upcoming programs and events!