Written by Craig Schreiner | Photos by Craig Schreiner
In Why I Teach, Stephanie Selvick, UW-Whitewater LGBTQ coordinator and director of the PB Poorman Pride Center, teaches courses designed to help LGBTQ people experience the feelings of confidence and empowerment which come with being part of a community — perhaps for the first time. The Sturgeon Bay native joined the Warhawk family five years ago.
“The LGBTQ studies courses I teach through Women’s and Gender Studies serve as incubators for advocacy and social change. The world is not always very kind to those who challenge the status quo. One objective in the courses I teach is to study those who do, so to learn from and celebrate their labor. These classes often begin with one question: ‘If I could change the world in one way, and not fail, how would I act?’ Imagining that a better, kinder and more equitable future is possible through us grounds our advocacy practice.”
“I have the privilege to mentor and be in community with the next generation of queer feminist change-makers. Students I teach are eager LGBTQ activists, advocates and allies. Since knowledge about the LGBTQ community doesn’t often pass down generationally in families of origin and isn’t common in the K-12 curriculum, they are usually self-taught practitioners. They are generous, resourceful, fiercely analytical and humble — and they know that they deserve more than they have been given.”
“What makes teaching at UW-Whitewater rewarding is how eager, ready and excited our students are to learn about LGBTQ advocacy. Many, of course, identify as LGBTQ. Still others have LGBTQ friends and family and want to show up for them as informed allies. I came out as queer and connected to my LGBTQ community for the first time through college courses. Feeling disconnected from the history of your own people can be enormously isolating. The courses I teach are designed to help LGBTQ people and our allies feel empowered by (re)connecting to a history and community that has historically been denied to us. It’s not surprising that so many students ‘come out’ in the courses I teach. What a gift! It’s taught me experientially how powerful it feels to be in community with one another. It makes us feel seen, valued, and validated. What could be better than that?”
“Teaching LGBTQ studies remotely during a pandemic and amidst an uprising prompted me to re-think and re-prioritize my relationship to advocacy, community-building and the classroom. Black feminist activist adrienne maree brown, says ‘we have to make justice the most pleasurable experience humans can have.’ Process matters. How we show up in our communities, treat each other, and care for ourselves creates the soil from which our advocacy praxis grows. Historically, pleasure, joy and leisure were reserved for a certain class and status of people. Brown’s work is helping people who have been told that they don’t deserve pleasure to reclaim it. I learned quickly that UW-Whitewater students were not afraid to say and do hard things. This semester I have worked diligently to center joy in our work with each other.”
WHY I TEACH is a series about the dedicated professionals at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, including professors, coaches, advisors and other staff members, who make every day a teachable moment — and every place a learning place — by their expertise and example.