Someone asked us:
Hi, hi. I’m looking for comprehensive assault education and wondered if you had any pointers? We’re reassessing the assault education program at our university and it’s super heteronormative. any tips? thanks thanks thanks
There are a ton of great resources, and YOU are great for doing this work.
So in terms of background, we know that sexual assault/violence have long gone underreported, unnoticed, or invisible in queer communities because of a combination of stigma, oppression via homophobia and transphobia, and good old-fashioned ignorance.
Yup, it’s still true that some people function under the total myth that domestic violence and sexual assault always involve a male abuser and a female victim. Not only is this just outright wrong, that kind of belief can stop people from getting the care and support they need.
Simply enough, this may mean providing some basic training for staff and volunteers, and doing some updates to print materials. You’ll want to be sure information includes LGBTQ people; the simple act of spelling out the fact that “lesbian gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer people are sometimes victims of sexual assault and intimate partner violence” can really help queer people feel visible and encouraged to get the help they may need. It’s better to intentionally include LGBTQ language than to use vague language that by default includes everyone.
Providing basic training to staff about what it means to provide a welcoming environment for LGBTQ people includes some important steps:
- Avoid assumptions about the identity of the person seeking help; just ask. “What’s important for us to know about you and your assault in order give you the best care and support?” Open-ended questions like this can help a ton to increase a sense of inclusion and visibly for an all-too-often marginalized group of people.
- On any intake paperwork, be sure to include the option of sexual orientation and gender identity self-identification; this simple act can signal that yes, you know that LGBTQ people exist and may be seeking services and support.
- Help staff and volunteers understand how potential clients might feel a little concerned as they ask for help because sadly, most have at least one pretty awful story about being treated badly by an uninformed care provider.
It’s also a good idea to try and partner with a local LGBTQ group at your school or in your community. So do a little looking to see who’s around and doing good work around LGBTQ issues, and see if you can work on things together!
The National Sexual Violence Resource Center has tons more info on making your assault programs inclusive to LGBTQ students. You can also check out the resources at your local Planned Parenthood. We have amazing community education departments with trained staff, and several of our affiliates have rape crisis and sexual assault programs as well.
And seriously, thank you. You’re doing great, important work in making sure your educating and resource-sharing includes people of various orientations, behaviors and identities, and that matters. It matters a lot. You rule.
- Calvin and Maureen at QueerTips
Hey, we wrote some more for Planned Parenthood Federation! Check it out.