Monday, March 30, 2009

Training Straight People

I work for a large corporation and one of my volunteer responsibilities is being part of the Leadership Team for the Pride Employee Resource Group on site. This group of around 50, is what organizes the company’s regional involvement in the yearly Pride Festival and Parade for both San Diego and Palm Springs area. The Pride group also gets involved in other community events like Queer Prom and just recently a regional gay bowling tournament.

Inside the company we hold LGBT Diversity Training which teaches the straight employees the business cases for an inclusive work environment. Part of the discussion goes through sexual orientation and gender identity, issues in the work place as well as a boatload of terminology. Don’t worry, no gaydar secrets are shared.

Other topics we review in the 3 hour long session is a brief history around the pink triangle, the buying power of the LGBT community, the do’s and don’ts if you think a non-out coworker is gay among other topics. There are a couple of exercises that are done too and I normally select the exercises that pertain to the audience. A box of tissues is on hand for these exercises because it’s a guarantee that one or two people get teary eyed since we cover some very sensitive material.

The most difficult for part for the straights to wrap their arms is one of the Trans models we present. A Trans-Male (female to male) who identifies as a Man, whose gender expression is a Man…all good so far…..but whose sexual orientation (attracted to) is a Man. It’s that last bit when their brains short circuit. So we go over it again.

If we get the group a little closer to their understanding Gay life and work challenges, we’ve done a good job. In most cases we get great feedback and we’ve added more people to our Ally program.

Last Friday – 34 people trained, 2 people cried and only one person not comfortable with becoming an Ally. Damn good job!


Dragon said...

sounds really interesting. Not sure if we have anything out here like that but educating people makes sense.
As far as the FTM that is attracted to males, I get it, if someone feels that way, more power to them, but trying to understand why, never got. But hey, whatever makes someone happy.

shane rocket said...

ribbon goes to you Jude.... now come to the midwest and teach those classes...!

Solo said...

Well done!! My reckoning is to just love people for who they are. I'm so over Homophobia and Evilvangelicals. I saw a thing yesterday that said "Be careful. The person you hate might be someone you love." Couldn't have said it better.
Keep up the great work. It's because of people like YOU that we are gonna win this fight. (Prop 8, et al)

Monkey Outlaw said...

Wow! How awesome that you work for a company that promotes this training! I know so many closed minded or in some cases sheltered people that can be enlightened by your trainings! When you coming to Kansas City?!!!

Propane Amy said...

That's awesome Jude!! And to follow suit.... When you coming to Minnesota?? LOL

small town dyke said...

Good for you! when you start the training class don't forget about Ohio!

Squirty said...

Wow thats awesome! Can you come to my thanksgiving gathering where they still use the "n" word and talk about the gays taking over prime time TV????

Dawg said...

Jude you rock! It's people like you who help others understand the meaning of Gay Life.

*big hugs!*