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College of Arts and Sciences News

Kent State Hosts LGBTQ Benefit Event

Posted Mar. 23, 2011

On April 2, Kent State University will host a film screening and reception in conjunction with the 35th Cleveland International Film Festival to benefit the university’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) Student Emergency Scholarship Fund.

The two-hour reception begins at 7 p.m. in the Cleveland Ballroom of the Ritz-Carlton, followed by the 9:20 p.m. screening of “A Marine Story” at the adjacent Tower City Cinemas.  The film tells the story of Alex, a servicewoman who is discharged under the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy but finds a new direction in civilian life.

Kent State’s LGBTQ Student Emergency Scholarship Fund provides support to LGBTQ students whose families have cut them off financially. Students can use this support for tuition, books, housing, food or other essential needs to help ensure their academic success.

The fund was established with a donation from an anonymous faculty member, according to Kent State’s Molly Merryman, associate professor of sociology and co-coordinator of the LGBT Studies program. “We started to have students contacting us and telling us stories of how they were being cut off by their families because of either their sexual orientation or gender identity, and that they were in considerable financial distress,” Merryman said. “This event is an effort to increase our resources so that we can help more students.”

The $75 cost includes appetizers, two tickets for wine or beer and a ticket to “A Marine Story.” There is also a $100 option, which sponsors a LGBT Studies or PRIDE! Kent student to attend the reception and film. Pride! Kent is the university’s student organization and is the second oldest LGBT college organization in the country.

At the reception, Assistant Professor Walter Gershon from Kent State’s School of Teaching, Learning & Curriculum Studies will present an audio montage of stories collected from LGBTQ students. In addition, one of the students helped by the scholarship fund will speak.

“Our real hope is that by collaborating with the Cleveland International Film Festival and raising awareness of the emergency fund that we will attract more individuals who are interested in helping our efforts,” Merryman said. “Based on what it costs to assist a student for one semester, we think we need about $1,500 to $2,500 for each student we help. The Ritz-Carlton Cleveland generously offered to support us by donating the use of its ballroom for the event, which is very exciting.”

The Ritz-Carlton also has donated a free hotel stay, which will be raffled at the reception to raise additional money for the fund.

“It’s a great opportunity to mingle with film fans, meet some of our students, enjoy the ambiance of the beautiful Ritz-Carlton and help a worthy cause,” Merryman added.

To purchase tickets for the April 2 reception and screening or to obtain more information, visit or contact Merryman at or 330-672-0315.

In 2001, Kent State began offering the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Studies minor, becoming the first university in Ohio to do so. The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Studies minor is designed to allow students to explore sexuality and sexual minorities from a variety of perspectives.

In March 2010, Kent State opened the LGBTQ Student Center. Located on the second floor of the Kent Student Center, the LGBTQ Student Center serves as the academic and social hub for the university’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer students.

“A Marine Story” also will be shown on March 31 at 2:15 p.m. and April 3 at 2:05 p.m. at the festival, with support from Kent State’s LGBT Studies program. For more information on the Cleveland International Film Festival, visit

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Media Contacts:
Molly Merryman,, 330-672-0315
Bob Burford,, 330-672-8516