Robins diversity panel explores difficult topics

  • Published
  • By Angela Woolen
  • Robins Public Affairs
In order to promote diversity at Robins, a six-person panel was held Aug. 14 at the Heritage Club Ballroom.

Pre-selected questions were given to audience members to encourage discussion around topics such as Hispanic heritage challenges, changes in the Air Force regarding same sex marriages and women in the military.

Panelists included: Capt. Kenneth Canty, 78th Security Forces Squadron, for LGBT issues; Joseph Sepulveda, Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, for Hispanic Heritage; Patricia Williams, chairwoman for the National American Indian Heritage Committee; Tech. Sgt. Crystal Harris, 402nd Software Maintenance Group, for Women's History; Kenneth Hubbard, 78th Logistics Readiness Squadron, for Black History; and Maj. Maria Gronning, Headquarters Air Force Reserve Command A6, for Asian Pacific Islander Heritage.

In response to a question about how the Air Force has changed since the ruling came out about same sex marriage, Canty said the changes were made in the Air Force before the ruling.

"We've done a really good job in the Air Force of adapting to that. We've already put all of the problems to bed," he said.

He also added that it was OK to talk about LGBT topics.

"You don't have to walk on eggshells. There is nothing to be ashamed of," Canty said.

Both Sepulveda and Harris talked about how having women in the military has contributed to the Air Force's success.

"We're extremely lucky to have this pool of talent," Sepulveda said.

Gronning got emotional when talking about her Filipino heritage.

"We're a great people," she said explaining that they are a giving race as well as a touchy-feely society.

Although the prospect of more computer-based training was shot down, most of the audience and panelists were in agreement that the Air Force has done well in promoting a diverse culture.

"Diversity brings flavor; everyone brings something to the table," Hubbard said.

Hubbard and Gronning expressed hope that those who see discrimination happening would do something about it, not that it was always easy to do the right thing.

"This boils down to dignity and respect for all. We come from different walks of life to serve the greatest country in the world," said Chief Master Sgt. Steven Trotter, who made the closing remarks at the panel.