Jennifer Finney Boylan Speaks on Gender, Diversity, Equity at SPSCC


South Puget Sound Community College’s Artist & Lecture Series has a history of bringing nationally recognized artists, authors and educators to our community as a means to educate students, staff, faculty and the general public. Sometimes these events are more educational, sometimes more entertaining, but they are always intended to initiate courageous and purposeful discussion within our community concerning critical and contemporary issues.

Jennifer Finney Boylan
Professor and Author Jennifer Finney Boylan will be featured as part of SPSCC’s Artist & Lecture Series on May 18, 2017. Photo credit: South Puget Sound Community College

On May 18, SPSCC will host professor and nationally recognized author Jennifer Finney Boylan at 7:30 p.m. in the Kenneth J. Minnaert Center for the Arts. Tickets can be purchased online through The Washington Center.

Boylan has written 15 books, served as a consultant for the Amazon series “Transparent” and as an actor and consultant for “I am Cait”, the docu-series about Caitlin Jenner.

In her presentation, Boylan will speak about transgender themes in her 2003 memoir, She’s Not There: A Life in Two Genders the first bestselling book by a transgender American. The evening will include a time to dive deeper through a Q&A session.

In addition to her 2003 memoir, Boylan’s works include the anti-bullying teen fiction Falcon Quinn series, her 2014 memoir Stuck in the Middle with You about gender and parenting, and The Long Black Veil, a thriller that was just released in April. Boylan is also a Contributing Opinion Writer for the New York Times’ op/ed page, the national co-chair of the Board of Directors of GLAAD.

The SPSCC Diversity and Equity Center is a safe, accepting place where all students can connect with their own communities and learn from others. Photo credit: SPSCC

The value of having an educator and author such as Boylan on campus is not lost on Charlie Ensminger, the Interim Director of Diversity and Equity at SPSCC. “This is a perfect storm, because she is so vocal, and a beacon of light for transition,” Ensminger said of Boylan’s presentation, which comes at a time when conversations about gender identity and acceptance are at the forefront.

“Having somebody like that on campus gives students a chance to connect to someone they can relate to who has been a leader. This is helping to engage underrepresented students,” Ensminger continues.

At a sold-out reception prior to the event, the SPSCC Foundation is partnering with Pizza Klatch to raise funds for the LGBTQ and Allies Scholarship at SPSCC. “We are excited to partner with Pizza Klatch,” said Kelly Green, the Director of Public Relations and Events at SPSCC. “It can be scary for LGBTQ students to go to college and we want to create a safe space so they feel supported.”

SPSCC Foundation
Shanayla, an SPSCC student, is one of two students who are working on the SPSCC Artist & Lecture Series presentation by Jennifer Finney Boylan on May 18. Photo credit: SPSCC

Green also noted that the college is committed to creating physically safe spaces such as gender-neutral bathrooms around campus. “We are partnering with the Diversity and Equity Center to provide resources to students in need,” said Green. “We are looking to raise funds to be able to give these scholarships.”

“A lot of our students are overlooked by traditional scholarships,” notes Ensminger. “It’s nice to have a very specific scholarship like this and it helps for LGBTQ and QTPoC (queer/trans people of color) students to realize they have so many allies who are willing to contribute to their education.”

Pizza Klatch, which meets at 11 high schools around Thurston County, was created in 2007 by local mental health professionals and community leaders in response to a growing number of suicides among LBGTQ teens. Because after-school gatherings were often a challenge for teens whose parents objected to their participation, in 2008 the groups started meeting over pizza at schools during lunch as a means to provide a safe, supportive and confidential community. Pizza Klatch is a nonprofit organization, funded by donations and grants from individuals and local, regional and national foundations.

spscc artist lecture series
Professor Jennifer Finney Boylan will speak May 18, 2017 at the SPSCC Artist & Lecture Series about transgender themes and advocacy. Photo courtesy: South Puget Sound Community College.

The Jennifer Finney Boylan lecture will take place on May 18, 2017 on the Kenneth J. Minnaert Center Mainstage at 7:30 p.m. Click here for more information or to purchase tickets online. Tickets are $10 for the general public and free for SPSCC students, staff and faculty.

If you would like to contribute to the LGBTQ and Allies Scholarship you can donate online at

For more information about the work of the SPSCC Foundation to create access to educational opportunities for students at South Puget Sound Community College, call 360-596-5430 or visit them online.


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