LGBT Equity Center releases employment videos

The LGBT Equity Center recently released two videos about LGBT employment opportunities and inclusion at work on the campus.

Funded by a Principles of Ethical and Responsible Conduct grant, the two videos were made by “the good folks in multimedia production under University Relations,” said Nicholas Sakurai, the LGBT Equity Center’s associate director, who drove the creation process for both videos.

“The two-minute video lets us encourage involvement and show what a great campus we have, and the longer video helps us to train people on inclusion to ensure that we’re really doing the work and not just saying that we’re inclusive,” Sakurai said.

The longer video, which is 13 minutes long, features LGBT students and faculty discussing ways to value diversity and why inclusion matters. It ends with Kumea Shorter-Gooden, the university’s chief diversity officer, calling the audience to take the Rainbow Terrapin Network Membership Training, found on rainbowterps.umd.edu, which can help university community members “learn how to be a better ally and advocate for LGBT inclusion.”

The LGBT Equity Center similarly offers Trans* Advocacy Training, as well as a new hourlong training program, LGBT Inclusion At Work, which features the 13-minute video, Sakurai said.

Shorter-Gooden, who was featured in both videos, said the university is headed in the right direction regarding diversity and inclusion in the workplace, but she knows it has further to go.

“It’s not only important to have diverse people in the workforce, but that they have full opportunities to thrive and be promoted and assume positions of greater responsibility,” Shorter-Gooden said. “It’s not just getting the bodies on campus, it’s really reconsidering the culture of the campus so that it fully embraces people from diverse backgrounds.”

Vanessa Nichols-Holmes, a business manager at the journalism college, said she has experienced discrimination as a lesbian before, but never at this university, where she has worked for 10 years.

“I don’t feel treated any differently,” she said.

Junior sociology major Richard Stevens Jr. has had a similar experience. Stevens, who is gay, is a student training and safety specialist for Shuttle-UM, a part of the Department of Transportation Services.

“Opportunities are open to basically everyone; as long as they’re qualified or willing to learn and be trained, you can find some sort of opportunity for employment on campus,” he said. “They definitely do a really good job of making sure everything’s open to everyone.”

This university is not immune to discrimination,  Shorter-Gooden said, but it’s good that the video was not made in response to an incident.

“Homophobic heterosexuals are alive and well on this campus,” she said. “The best way to address that is to be proactive in sending messages, communicating what we’re trying to do, inspiring people, setting a tone and sending a message.”

Nichols-Holmes said the LGBT Equity Center probably chose to make these videos now and have this focus because “it’s a great time to be a lesbian or gay.”

“It’s a great opportunity to say, ‘Hey, look at us, we include everybody,’” she said. “It doesn’t matter who you are, what color you are, what you identify as or whatever. You’re welcome here.”

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