When Joshua Lazard started working within Duke Chapel less than a year ago, he noticed a rainbow placard hanging outside his supervisor’s office.
The card reads, “I am your ALLY,” and is given to Duke employees and students who go through ally training offered by Duke’s Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity.Read More
Lazard, the C. Eric Lincoln Minister for Student Engagement, went through the training last year to learn how to offer more support to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning (LGBTQ) community. He is now working on a partnership between his office and the Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity, in which he’ll help encourage an open environment for students exploring both their spiritual and sexual identities.
“This is just a part of who I am as an individual, that I’m an ally of the community,” Lazard said. “And I’m not the only person here at Duke Chapel that has a placard.”
Hundreds of Duke faculty, staff and students have gone through ally training since its start about 10 years ago, said Nick Antonicci, assistant director of the Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity. Those who complete training join the Duke Ally Network by displaying an ally placard at their desk, joining the center’s listserv, and participating in center and community events.
Employees and students can register to attend a free, three-hour training session during which Center staff share information about the LGBTQ community, such as proper identity terms, and ways to speak up to combat homophobia, transphobia and other discrimination.
The next training session is Jan. 28, and others are scheduled through the spring semester.
The Center also provides ally training updates for those who’ve already gone through the three-hour training session, as well as Trans 101 workshops, in which Duke students, staff and faculty can learn more about the trans community.
“Our mission is to create a more inclusive university and environment for those who identify within our community,” Antonicci said. “By doing the ally training, we’re hoping we can educate people who can create change or include their departments or their organizations. The more people, the better.”Center staff members also visit Duke departments who request on-site ally training. This semester, Antonicci said he and others will visit the Duke Marine Lab in Beaufort as well as The Duke Graduate School.
Paula D. McClain, dean of The Graduate School and vice provost for graduate education, said The Graduate School started organizing diversity workshops in the spring of 2013 for its employees. As part of that effort, the Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity will visit the school in February and provide training to more than 40 staff members who work in Graduate School departments, from admissions to graduate student affairs.
“We need to make sure we are covering all of our student population and are very attuned to the needs and concerns and the stresses and strains that they might experience as they go through graduate school,” McClain said. “There’s so much involved with LGBTQ students and LGBTQ issues that we just can’t assume that we know all of the issues. Everybody can learn more by going through these workshops.”