As Pride Month comes to a close, NIU campus officials at the forefront of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender and/or Queer spectrum (LGBTQ+) resources and support are only gearing up their ongoing efforts to help train campus and community members to be advocates for and supportive of those who identify as LGBTQ+.
Pride Month is currently celebrated each year in the month of June to honor the 1969 Stonewall riots in Greenwich Village, New York. The Stonewall riots were a tipping point for the Gay Liberation Movement in the United States.
At NIU, the center of this support network is the Gender and Sexuality Resource Center. Molly Holmes, GSRC Director at NIU, said that this summer, the GSRC is extending its popular Ally Training program to members of the community.
Ally Training consists of two sessions totaling four hours. In the first part, participants learn about how identifying in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and/or queer spectrum (LGBTQ+) impacts one’s life. The lessons are taught through interactive activities and discussions that include personal stories that help participants understand gender and sexuality privilege and inequity. In the second session, concepts learned in the first session are used as case studies to determine what participants can do in their daily lives to be an ally to the LGBTQ+ community.
Molly Holmes, Director of the GSRC, said her program’s records begin in 1998, and since then, nearly 1,350 faculty, staff and students have participated in Ally Training.
In addition to Ally Training, the GSRC launched Trans Ally Training in 2014, which is an extra, two-hour session that focuses specifically on transgender identities, their impact on life, and how to be a supportive ally to trans-spectrum individuals. Nearly 200 people have received this additional training beyond their Ally Training.
This summer, GSRC is partnering with the DeKalb County nonprofit Family Services Agency to offer Ally Training to their staff and also to community members who wish to participate.
Holmes said NIU has a strong history of being inclusive for LGBTQ+ students, faculty, staff and DeKalb community members.
“Initiatives including the preferred name option, and addition of gender inclusive restrooms are two recent examples,” she said. “Further, we recognize the Stonewall Riots, which pushed the modern day LGBTQ+ equality movement forward, were fronted by individuals most marginalized by society: transwomen of color. Ally Trainings at NIU provide the campus and community to be part of that continued legacy.”