Michigan Department of Civil Rights completes historic trainings

By |2018-01-16T10:11:51-05:00October 31st, 2017|Uncategorized|

LANSING – The room on the 7th floor of the building in downtown Lansing which houses the Michigan Department of Civil Rights was filled with buzzing staff from the department last week as they completed their final required staff training on LGBT issues.
The training, provided by Triangle Foundation’s Director of Policy Sean Kosofsky, was implemented because Governor Jennifer Granholm issued an executive order in December 2003 preventing discrimination in hiring in the executive branch of State Government.
Harold Core, the department’s public information officer, said the training is a logical growth of trainings the department has always done. “We are a civil rights agency. It has always been our practice to prepare our colleagues for cultural competency.”
The training, a fast paced two-hour encounter, included basic vocabulary on LGBT issues, and introductions to the various levels of LGBT legal issues.
Joe Collins, director of Human Resources for the department, said there was very little resistance to the training in the department. “I was wondering how it would be received,” he said. “I would say there has been less pushback on this training than others.”
An example of resisted trainings, Core said, was when the department transitioned to a more computerized complaint system. “Any change will cause pushback,” he said. “This one didn’t. I think because a lot of people see this as a natural evolution.”
And did Core, Collins or Director of Civil Rights Operations Warren Bonam learn anything new in the training?
Bonam said yes. “The definitions of terminology. It just clarified some of the differences for me.”
Collins nodded. “Particularly the difference between sexual orientation and sexual preference. I was as dumb as Feiger on this issue. And transgender issues, I’m sure most people are not up to speed there.”
“That tool box of resistance,” said Core, was the thing that caught his attention. The toolbox is a definition of how civil rights movements all move along a continuum of resistance as change moves forward. It highlights resistance in such areas as the law, the church and tactics like lies.
Kosofsky said staff feedback from the trainings was overwhelmingly positive. “We heard wonderful comments from participants and administrators in the department.”
He also said MCDR should be commended. “The MCDR has a long history of being supportive of LGBT rights and they do a great deal to serve our community across the state. Linda Parker, the director, should be applauded for her leadership in appointing a liaison to the LGBT community last year and now mandating this training for her entire staff.”

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