Journey to Empowerment: Pride Alliance Visits National Young Feminist Leadership Conference

By Van Nhi Ho M.A. ’24 

Stockton's Pride Alliance embarked on an inspiring journey to Washington, D.C., for the highly anticipated National Young Feminist Leadership Conference (NYFLC).

Organized by the Feminist Majority Foundation, the NYFLC stands as a beacon of progress, education and empowerment. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, NYFLC had been virtual, but for the first time in four years, Pride Alliance was able to experience the true essence of feminism in person. The conference attracted participants from over 21 states, fostering a melting pot of ideas, experiences and future aspirations. 

The conference served as a monumental platform for dissecting pressing global issues, from the intricacies of women's reproductive rights to the pressing challenges faced by Afghan women. Through a series of keynote speeches, the event painted a vivid picture of the global landscape of feminism. 

The conference was structured to maximize engagement and learning; its agenda spanned a multitude of feminist issues, branching into specialized sessions. This format encouraged our students to freely immerse themselves in discussions that sparked interest. These breakout sessions were not only educational but also interactional, fostering deep connections between students across the country. 

A defining moment of the NYFLC was delivered by Eleanor Smeal, the founder of the Feminist Majority Foundation. Standing before a sea of feminists, Smeal issued a powerful call to action: to make space for others and to recognize the strength in diversity and unity. Her words resonated with me deeply, encapsulating the essence of the conference and the broader feminist movement. 

WHM 2024 - Feminist Leadership Conference Photo 1
WHM 2024 - Feminist Leadership Conference Photo 2
WHM 2024 - Feminist Leadership Conference Photo 3

It's clear that the NYFLC was more than just a conference; it was a transformative journey for attendees... Our journey to the NYFLC was a powerful reminder of the strength found in community and the importance of diverse perspectives in driving the feminist movement forward."

Taking a page out of her book, I’d like to share what our Stockton feminists had to say about the conference, starting with Communication Studies students Laura Leonel and Kota Gansert. Leonel, a first-year student, came to the conference to learn more about feminism and to meet other students interested in the movement – the most memorable breakout session for her was “Sex Education & Life Without Roe.” 

“It talked about the lack of adequate sexual education for minors in the school system. They discussed many important aspects of our current sexual education curriculum that I haven’t thought about yet, such as the lack of LGBTQ and disability representation, as well as avoiding the shame and taboo that comes with sex and sexual education,” Leonel shared. “The conference really stressed the importance of the Equal Rights Amendment Coalition as well as voting in this year's presidential election to protect the reproductive rights of women across the nation. I also learned a lot about female empowerment and the role you can play as an advocate on campus.” 

Gansert, who serves as vice president of Pride Alliance and interns at the Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Center, was ready to gain new ideas for on-campus programs and resources for Stockton. Her favorite session, led by Dr. Sophia Yen, founder of Pandia Health, centered on different types of birth control and how they work. 

Pride Alliance's Pride Fest 2024 

Join us as we celebrate our pride and community for this year's 2024 Pride Fest! Hosted by Pride Alliance, there will be 5 events from Mon. 4/22 to Fri. 4/26, all centered around LGBTQ+ culture and community. 

  • Monday, April 22 – Coming Out Cookout, Arts & Sciences Outdoor Trail from 3-4 p.m.
  • Tuesday, April 23 – Gayme Night, WGSC Lounge (F103) from 6-8 p.m. 
  • Wednesday, April 24 – Pride's Got Talent, Campus Center Theatre from 7-10 p.m. 
  • Thursday, April 25 – Bottoms Up Movie Night, F111 from 7-10 p.m. 
  • Friday, April 26 – Pride Fest, TRLC Outdoor Quad from 12-4 p.m. 

“It was important to me as it is not something I have ever really been taught about in the past. From this conference, I have learned that there are definitely more resources available to us than I realized and that we should integrate these new ideas and facts into events for our community here in order to support Stockton students the best that we can,” Gansert said. 

Laurie Dutton, director of the WGSC, is passionate about the Equal Rights Amendment. The conference helped emphasize its importance and gave students the background behind its detrimental time limit, which has slowed the progression of ratifying it to become law. 

“The ERA is vital because it will protect the rights of women and the LGBTQIA+ community in the long run. Without it, laws that prevent discrimination against women could be easily changed by Congress and/or states,” Dutton said. “Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg believed in the ERA because it would make sure women are truly equal in the eyes of the law. It would also give Congress more power to make laws that help women, like the Violence Against Women Act. Efforts are now being made in Congress to remove the time limit on ratification, which could finally make the ERA a part of the Constitution as the 28th Amendment. This is a big step toward achieving fairness and equality for all.” 

It's clear that the NYFLC was more than just a conference; it was a transformative journey for attendees. Pride Alliance members were able to engage with complex topics, participated in rich discussions and returned with a promise to better our communities around us and to increase feminism on campus. Our journey to the NYFLC was a powerful reminder of the strength found in community and the importance of diverse perspectives in driving the feminist movement forward. 

Van Nhi Ho

About the Contributor

Van Nhi Ho M.A. '24 is the coordinator for LGBTQ+ initiatives in the Women's Gender & Sexuality Center and a graduate student. She has recently become a member of the Campus Committee on Diversity & Inclusive Excellence.

Moving On Up: Stockton Earns 4.5 Stars in Campus Pride Index

By Van Nhi Ho | February 2024 Issue of Celebrate Diversity

CPI Rating of 4.5/5 Stars
Courtesy of the Campus Pride Index and Laurie Dutton, director of the WGSC. 

In working to make Stockton University an inclusive environment, offices and departments such as the Women's Gender & Sexuality Center (WGSC) have initiated policy changes and created dynamic programming that centers LGBTQ+ students. Follow the journey to being nationally recognized for this with Van Nhi Ho, graduate coordinator for LGBTQ+ initiatives in the WGSC. 

The Campus Pride Index (CPI) is a nationally recognized assessment that evaluates universities on their LGBTQ+ friendliness. The index assesses institutions on a range of criteria, including policy, residential life, student development and retention, student life and much more. The rating system provides resources and information for potential LGBTQ+ students, helping them make informed decisions about where they wish to pursue their higher education. Stockton received 4.5 stars in the latest assessment.

When Stockton was first evaluated on the CPI, it received 3 out of 5 stars. While this rating indicated that the university had some support and resources for LGBTQ+ students, it was evident that there was room for improvement. Recognizing the need for change, the WGSC embarked on a journey toward enhancing its inclusivity and support for the LGBTQ+ community. We knew we needed to start the change internally.

This began with starting conversations with faculty on how they can make their classrooms and curriculum inclusive. These conversations began to inspire change through student organizations and different faculty departments to create those internal changes for our LGBTQ+ students.