Reported By Women: June 15

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This past week, we took a dive into what it means to be conscientious, considerate, and culturally competent with GLSEN at our very own Cultural Competency Workshop held at the Cincinnati Public Library. Over 20 people filled the space as we dove into questions and conversations that have become weighted by politics and controversy, and walked away with new perspectives.  

GLSEN Cultural Competency Workshop

Reporting by Sandra Okot-Kotber. Photography by Stacy Wegley

Our instructions at the Cultural Competency Workshop were simple: Say “oops” when you know you’ve slipped and said something problematic; say “ouch” when you’ve heard something insensitive. Melissa Meyer of Safe and Supported (Lighthouse Youth & Family Services), and Emma Heinemann of GLSEN were forthright and friendly trainers at the workshop last Saturday.

The duo reminded us that humans are imperfect. We’re ignorant, naïve –sometimes rash. We blurt out words that instantly make us think, “oops.” Sometimes we’re hurt by things others say and – “ouch!” – we’re offended. But at the workshop, we were encouraged to let those feelings out instead of burying them, like people often do. After all, without dialogue, how can anyone change? How can anyone learn, grow?

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Heinemann and Meyer also reviewed troubling statistics and reports with us. Queer and trans youth are particularly vulnerable to homelessness, abuse, mental illness, and a plethora of other adversities. We were taught about ways and resources to become better members and allies of the LGBTQ community. Everything from smaller, beneficial actions such as adding your  preferred pronouns to your email signature to the grander scale opportunities, like the Host Home Program were brought to the table. Each of us created plans of action stating how we planned to change our lives within that day, within a couple of weeks, and within a few months to make our community a safer space for LGBTQ people.


The environment Meyer and Heinemann created was warm, receptive, and encouraging. Both women were readily accessible while presenting the LGBTQ-centered training. This inviting air welcomed questions, not only with the instructors, but also amongst the women who attended. A variety of generations, sexualities, secular and religious upbringings, and races made up the audience, sparking a fascinating and eye-opening discussion.

If you’re interested in donating to Lighthouse Youth & Family Services to support LGBTQ+ youth, check out their website. Look into holding a cultural competency workshop at your school, workplace or church here.

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