Throughout October, Southside Behavioral Health partnered with the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center (SVHEC) to host four LGBTQ+ Equity Trainings. These virtual trainings were open to SVHEC staff as well as community members and focused on LGBTQ+ affirmative language and communication. Led by Roanoke Diversity Board Member Wesley Cook, MSW, these trainings allowed for detailed discussions between participants on the best ways to increase support for LGBTQ+ populations.
Each training was a small group session with about 10 members per session, which allowed participants to ask targeted questions regarding the best ways to assist students and coworkers who may identify as LGBTQ+ as they come out or experience negative behavior within their communities. Takeaways from the presentation included the positive effects of gender-neutral restrooms in schools, as well as how using pronouns “she, her, him, his, they, them” in email signatures helps create a safe and accepting atmosphere.
Participants from the training found it very informative, reporting in a follow-up survey that it helped them to better understand gender affirmative language as well as LGBTQ+ terminology. Everyone who participated in the training was mailed a “SWAG” bag with “What’s Your Pronoun?” stickers, bracelets, and a completion certificate. These items can be displayed in personal offices and shared with others to increase awareness and reduce stigma for our local LGBTQ+ populations. Together, with your help, Southside Behavioral Health is looking forward to building safer, more accepting, and resilient communities.