LGBT Resource Center holds ally training

GVL / Luke Holmes - Marla Wick leads the “Queer and Trans 101: a Training for Allies” lecture in Kirkhof Friday, Oct. 7, 2016.

Luke Holmes

GVL / Luke Holmes – Marla Wick leads the “Queer and Trans 101: a Training for Allies” lecture in Kirkhof Friday, Oct. 7, 2016.

Dylan Grosser

Members of the LGBT community are often their own advocates for issues like same-sex marriage, employment discrimination and gender inclusive bathrooms. However, there is a way for people outside the LGBT community to help raise visibility and awareness for these issues. These people are called “allies” and were the focus of a training seminar put on by Jen Hsu-Bishop, director of the Milton E. Ford LGBT Resource Center, and Marla Wicks, associate director.

In this training, people came from the women, gender and sexuality studies department, from feminist philosophy classes and out of general interest. Everyone who came, however, shared that their goal for coming was to better educate themselves on LGBT issues and become a better advocate for the community.

In the meeting, Wicks and Hsu-Bishop focused on appropriate vocabulary and concepts of gender, sex and sexuality. Wicks said an important aspect of the meeting was developing an understanding of ‘alliship skills,’ which includes using the correct terminology and pronouns for LGBT+ people.

The meeting was mainly informative, but also included elements of discussion, so audience members could demonstrate their understanding.

“The audience was fantastic, really thoughtful and engaged,” Hsu-Bishop said. “I think that I could hear a lot of learning happening, which always makes me really excited to see that the work we’re doing really is having an immediate impact.”

A point stressed in the meeting was the fact that being an ally is not an identity, it is a practice that must be done, and a person must be active in repeating ally behavior over and over again to be considered one. Hsu-Bishop said a good ally will listen to and respect LGBT people, while standing up against hateful people for them.

Hsu-Bishop said that having meetings like this can make a difference on campus.

“Every little step works. I don’t think that one event is going to change the world drastically overnight, but I think that these small steps make a really big difference in the larger fabric of our campus climate and the experiences folks have at GVSU,” Hsu-Bishop said.