GSW student Lukis Bagdon attends LGBT Detroit Leadership Academy

We recently caught up with GSW student Lukis Bagdon to talk about their experience with the LGBT Detroit Leadership Academy and joining the LGBT Detroit Young Adult Board of Advisors.

First, tell us a little about yourself.

My name is Lukis Bagdon (they/them), and I’m currently a Secondary Education major with a concentration in social studies with minors in Public Health and GSW. I am in my senior year, gearing up to begin Pre-Student Teaching in the Winter 2023 semester. I represent the College of Education in the WSU Student Senate, as well as serving as the secretary for the Eboard. Additionally, I am a member of the Speech and Debate Team, where I am the currently reigning NEDA National Champion. I have three cats (Mr. Cowboy Britches, Reuben, and Isaac), have read 72 books in 2022, and love to make quilts. After Wayne State, I want to become a sheep herder, redesign national curriculum standards for secondary education, or continue to coach high school debaters around the country. If all else fails, law school is likely where you will find me.

Why were you drawn to the LGBT Detroit Leadership Academy?

I was drawn to the LGBT Detroit Leadership Academy after seeing it in the GSW Newsletter. I’m always looking for more opportunities to learn, and, seeing that it was paid, decided to apply.

Tell us a little about your experience in the Academy. What aspect was most impactful?

My experiences at the Academy were incredibly interesting. I find that very often, despite one’s best attempts, it’s easy to find oneself in an echo chamber. Sometimes I find comfort in the never-ending assurances that I know everything. But hearing from others helps shatter the illusion that I’ve perfected my personal politics.

This, truthfully, was the most impactful: being in a space where others feel safe enough to share their experiences and impart their knowledge. One of the most important parts of building a healthy educational space is to understand that students cannot learn unless they feel safe. Working to cultivate that through our very different perspectives was hard, but very rewarding.

Where do you see that work taking you next? Or where do you want to take that experience to next? 

LGBT Detroit also inspired me to begin working to put sharps disposal boxes on campus—an initiative I’m working on with fellow senator Hayden Johnson. Part of reducing HIV stigma is reducing stigma surrounding drug usage (and, more broadly, fighting the War on Drugs). Part of this, of course, is the decriminalization of marijuana, prison abolition, and readily accessible healthcare. Another part of this is telling people who use drugs that they are, first and foremost, people, community members, and human beings deserving of care. Sharps disposal boxes in WSU bathrooms show WSU community members who use drugs that their safety is paramount. There is, as always, more to fighting stigmatization of HIV and drug use, but this is one small part I’m confident we can work towards.

How did you get involved with the LGBT Detroit Young Adult Board of Advisors? What responsibilities does that entail?

I got involved in the LGBT Detroit Young Adult Board of Advisors (also known as YABA) after talking with Tay Brown (the coordinator of the mentorship). While I’m tenacious and strong-willed, I am also easily convinced when it comes to community activism. Young adults and teenagers are a deeply important but often overlooked part of our communities. Ignoring them only serves to exacerbate the issues we are trying to combat. There, I hope to increase engagement with young adults and help them get access to the help they need. My specific role is Secretary (I can type about 150 words a minute at my fastest, which seems to be a skill I cannot stop exploiting), where my goal is to keep track of ideas along with coordinate meetings and organizing communique.