ASU Lodestar Center


Public Allies SAAF Inclusivity training

Public Allies Arizona members get a lesson in inclusivity and the value of affirming spaces

June 26, 2024 — As we celebrate Pride Month, members of the ASU Lodestar Center’s Public Allies Arizona program recently participated in a special training opportunity with the Southern Arizona AIDS Foundation (SAAF). LGBTQ+ 101 – Cultural Responsiveness and Best Practices is a comprehensive training aimed to equip leaders with the knowledge and tools necessary to foster an inclusive and welcoming environment for LGBTQ+ individuals.

The training aligns with key pillars of both organizations, to promote inclusivity and create affirming spaces while empowering individuals to be agents of positive change. Public Allies Arizona has a stated mission to create a just and equitable society and the diverse leadership to sustain it. The LGBTQ+ 101 training from SAAF covered a wide range of topics, from terminology and history to best practices and strategies for creating inclusive spaces. Emerson Kuhn, the director of SAAF, provided valuable insights into the training's objectives and the importance of promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion in leadership roles.

One of the primary goals of the training was to increase the Allies’ knowledge of LGBTQ+ terminology and identities. By understanding the spectrum of sexual and gender identities and expressions, participants gained a deeper appreciation for the diversity within the LGBTQ+ community. The training also addressed common misconceptions and biases, emphasizing the importance of respect and dignity for all identities.

Another key objective was to raise awareness of the unique challenges and issues faced by LGBTQ+ youth, particularly in the context of homelessness. Statistics and real-world examples shed light on the systemic discrimination and oppression experienced by the LGBTQ+ community, underscoring the need for inclusive and affirming services and spaces.

Emerson highlighted the significance of diversity, equity and inclusion in leadership roles, stating, "It's probably one of the most important things to me in leadership, for the folks in those roles to have a solid understanding of these concepts, if not embody them, themselves." Leaders who embrace these principles are better equipped to make informed decisions that positively impact the communities they serve.

The training provided practical strategies and tools for promoting inclusivity in various settings, such as sharing pronouns during introductions. Participants learned to identify their level of support on a spectrum ranging from intolerance to solidarity, and were offered specific practices to implement at individual, organizational and structural levels.

One of the remarkable aspects of the LGBTQ+ 101 training was its ability to create a safe and inclusive environment for participants to share their experiences and ask questions, according to attendees. Emerson shared that they received overwhelmingly positive feedback from attendees, including individuals who felt empowered to come out and express their identities, as well as Allies seeking guidance on how to better support their loved ones.

The importance of inclusivity training extends far beyond the LGBTQ+ community. By fostering an understanding and appreciation for diversity, organizations can create welcoming and affirming spaces for all individuals, regardless of their identities or backgrounds. Emerson emphasized the significance of inclusion, stating, "Including people in decision-making and truly sharing power with them is an incredibly underutilized approach/tactic, and balancing all three of these concepts are an important charge that more leaders need to remember and take on with more conviction."
SAAF's LGBTQ+ 101 training shows the positive impact that inclusive education can have on individuals and communities. By equipping leaders with the knowledge and tools to promote inclusivity, the training contributes to creating a more accepting and supportive society for the LGBTQ+ community and beyond.

During Pride Month, it's crucial to acknowledge the ongoing efforts of organizations like SAAF and the invaluable resources they provide. SAAF's Family Pride Initiative website offers additional resources and recommendations for individuals and organizations seeking to become more inclusive.

Image: Public Allies at Southern Arizona Aids Foundation for a training day on inclusivity

Story by Nyasha Mhungu, ASU Lodestar Center


Find out more about Public Allies Arizona

Public Allies Arizona is changing the face and practice of leadership throughout Phoenix and Tucson communities by demonstrating our conviction that everyone can lead, and that lasting change results when citizens of all backgrounds step up, take responsibility and work together.