IU faculty and staff can receive free ally training to learn more about issues affecting the LGBTQ community

Ally: a person who associates or cooperates with another; supporter.

The word often comes up in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer community. But what does it really mean to be an LGBTQ ally?

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Danielle Hernandez, a Ph.D. student in the IU School of Education, is leading the ally trainings. Photo by IU Communications

Danielle Hernandez, a second-year Ph.D. student in the IU School of Education’s school psychology program, and IU’s LGBTQ+ Culture Center want to help faculty and staff learn more about the issues affecting the LGBTQ+ community and how they can become an ally through an ally training program.

“The ally training is important for faculty and staff because I’ve heard from a variety of departments and offices that while they are aware of LGBTQ+ students and they want to help them, they do not necessarily feel comfortable doing so or do not feel they are able to effectively help,” said Hernandez, who works as a graduate assistant at the LGBTQ+ Culture Center.

The LGBTQ+ Culture Center has been offering similar training for years. But Hernandez began updating the program last semester.

The free training aims to teach participants about LGBTQ+ terminology, good listening strategies, and campus and community resources available to students. Attendees will also take part in role-playing scenarios that could happen to IU students, such as harassment, interactions with insensitive peers and family conflicts.

Faculty and staff can also learn some basic conversation skills that can help them in interactions with anyone.

The training is something that can help shape the culture of campus, said Doug Bauder, director of IU’s LGBTQ+ Culture Center.

“As an older, cisgender, Christian, white male, I have come to recognize the way in which my understanding of the world, my language and my behavior impact the lives of students I seek to serve,” he said. “If, indeed, I want to earn the trust of those students I need to understand their viewpoints, their way of being. Each of us can be more sensitive to people whom we perceive as different, but that doesn’t happen naturally. It happens by listening and asking questions. That’s the importance of ally training.”

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Ally training is available at the LGBTQ+ Culture Center.

The sessions take about an hour but can be tailored for a group’s specific needs. Hernandez can also personalize the trainings to narrow down on a more specific topic, including intersectionalities within the LGBTQ+ community or for those who work, or plan to work with, students in kindergarten through 12th grade.

Those interested in hosting a training may contact Hernandez by phone, 812-855-4252 or by email at glbtserv@indiana.edu.

A few drop-in sessions will take place every final Wednesday of each month from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. and every first Sunday of each month from noon to 1 p.m. at the LGBTQ+ Culture Center library. No RSVP is necessary.

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