What’s needed to foster LGBTQ+ inclusivity all year round

July 10, 2023 
Erika Ritchie
Greater Green Bay Community Foundation

Days, weeks, and months of awareness are wonderful opportunities to deepen our understanding of the issues affecting our community and the people who live here. The challenge lies in turning the compassion generated into year-round action for lasting change.

Pride Month is a commonly cited example of the return to disconnection that often follows community-wide months of awareness. As a community foundation, we are committed to keep the conversation going by fostering inclusive environments of diverse thought, perspectives, and individuals all year round.

Let us Love One Another Mural

Green Bay, Wisconsin mural by Zane Statz and Spencer Young.

We spoke with several key leaders within the local LGBTQ+ community to amplify what our community is doing well and what’s needed next to make it more inclusively better for all. Here’s what they said:

Michael Louis Vinson, City of Green Bay Equal Rights Commission:

“We are all at different stages in our learning journeys as we work toward building a more inclusive community. At times we may find ourselves full of questions or even skepticism about a particular aspect of identity or difference, but our lack of understanding should never supersede our responsibility to treat everyone with respect, kindness, and compassion.

Demonstrated, active compassion can come before understanding — while it is helpful to evolve our hearts and minds, what our neighbors need most is a shift in our behaviors. We must treat everyone — yes, everyone — with the dignity, humanity, and respect they deserve, even though we may struggle to build our individual storehouse of understanding and awareness.”

Stacie Christian, PhD, UW-Green Bay Assistant Vice Chancellor of Inclusive Excellence:

“Students and employees have informed us at the Pride Center and to others on campus that they are here, and work here, because of UW-Green Bay’s high rating by the National Pride Index as one of the top LGBTQ+ friendly campuses in the United States. More often as of late, students who identify as transgender state that they plan to stay in Green Bay after they graduate as they see the community being more supportive.

I would suggest that people in the Green Bay community participate, and businesses provide opportunities for their employees to participate in safe ally training. The Pride Center at UW-Green Bay offers this option at this time, and there are other ways the Pride Center of Northeastern Wisconsin can provide support in this area. People who participate in training can provide better support for family members, co-workers, and others in the community to learn what it means to be a good ally. A community that has positive allies, provides support for a healthy community.”

Martha M, President of the Bay Area Council on Gender Diversity; Chairperson of the Bay Area Trans Youth Alliance:

“The LGBT+ community needs many more allies who are willing to be allies when members of the LGBTQ+ community are not present – i.e. those times when there is a family gathering or gathering of co-workers and somebody makes an inappropriate joke or speaks disparagingly of another member of the LGBTQ+ community. We need many more allies who will speak up and speak out at those times.

Even when good things are happening or being done by, with, and for the LGBTQ+ community, they are subtly promoted so as not to draw too much attention or backlash from homophobic and transphobic people that live in Brown County. The LGBTQ+ community needs to be more openly present and integrated into mainstream Brown County events and businesses.”

 

Pete Angilello, The Canary Fund:

“Maya Angelou said it best: ‘Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.’

How can we build more trusting relationships? How can we invite different opinions and perspectives into the conversation? I think it all starts with listening deeply and intently to someone’s story. This helps break down barriers and helps to show the many dimensions and experiences of a person we otherwise would not know. It helps everyone in our community be seen.

When a person can bring their authentic self to a community, they are more engaged and able to contribute to the benefit of it…When you feel like you belong, it makes you feel like collaborating and contributing ideas to make our community a better place to live.”

If you are passionate about making our community a more inclusive place, our team can provide you with the local data, knowledge, tools, and opportunities to make the greatest difference. Reach out at 920-432-0800 or visit the About Us page to learn how we work together to grow the greater good.

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