Faculty members from all over Wayne State’s campus are working to become more conscious allies and mentors toward the LGBTQ community on campus.
The Dean of Student’s Office and the GLTBA Student Union have partnered together to bring the University of Michigan Spectrum Center’s LGBTQ Ally Training Development Program to WSU. The program has two sessions already finished and more continuing through the semester.
The one day, six-hour sessions are held by representatives from the Spectrum Center, a support center focused on creating a safe community for LGBTQ students on U of M’s campus. Their ally development program travels upon request and has been presented at universities, hospitals and nonprofits, training over 2,000 people.
The sessions include workshops and conversations built to help participants engage in their identity as LGBTQ allies. The instructors share terminology, suggestions of how to assist students and advice on how to handle specific situations that may appear across campus regarding sexual orientation and gender identity.
In the most recent session held on Feb. 20, Spectrum Center Interim Director Will Sherry explained how the sessions help create an environment of support and encouragement.
“Through active engagement in the training, we believe participants will grow in their understanding of themselves and their own identities, their knowledge of LGBT identities and skills and actions related to their own allyhood,” Sherry said.
Sherry encouraged participants to look at LGBTQ alliance through a larger social justice framework, acknowledging their own privilege and experiences in order to understand the experiences of others.
“We believe that lots of talking and processing is important, but we also believe action is a component of allyhood and that can look like a lot of different things,” he said.
Though Coordinator of Student Life, Greek Affairs, and Student Activities Tiny Sebastian-Griffin said this is just the tip of the iceberg in improving LGBTQ services at WSU, she’s excited about the momentum the sessions have gained.
“It really is going to help our students know that there are people here that will be able to offer some guidance and really be mindful of some of the things they’re going through,” she said. “If that person isn’t able to assist, they’ll be able to direct them to someone that can.”
Currently the sessions are only available for faculty and staff, but Sebastian-Griffin is hopeful they will be open to students after a strong community of employees is trained. She said the reception has been extremely positive from participants.
“It’s been amazing. They’ve loved it,” she said. “When we opened up the training, the registrations filled up automatically. The first day they were over packed, so we had to keep adding and adding sessions. They’ve been getting some great responses.”
Even Sherry reflected on the diversity of departments and job positions that were represented at the training. “People are going back to so many different places on campus. That will impact students,” he said.
After completing the session, participants receive a sticker of the LGBTQ ally logo. They are encouraged to display it as a commitment toward alliance and the constant development of their own identity as an ally.
Registration for faculty and staff is still available for the March 13 and March 27 sessions.