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Pride at Work Michigan is a nonprofit organization that represents LGBTQ union members and their allies that works to organize mutual community support between the organized labor movement and the LGBTQ members within it. Across the U.S. there are over 20 chapters and Thornton serves as Michigan’s president. She said her primary goals for next year are to focus on inclusivity for members who are transgender, hard of hearing and blind.
“Because it is still a fairly conservative workplace, typically male,” Thornton said. “We need to raise our education around those issues, so that when we do have LGBT folks who want to work in those environments that it’s a comfortable work environment. And so that people are comfortable and have had some LGBT exposure education.”
She said that post the midterm elections she’s “cautiously optimistic” that her work will be made easier because of the “blue wave” felt in the state.
“Running an election versus actually doing the work [is different], and that phrase has been used a lot, ‘Get to work, do the work.’ So, we’re going to see,” she said. “We definitely have a more progressive situation, but of course we don’t have the legislature so the possibilities around getting the Elliott-Larsen Act expanded are not as good. … We don’t want to lose any of the momentum that we built this year. In our first year we basically wanted to let people know that the chapter was back and doing LGBT, voter ed and candidate visibility. We’re trying to move that forward and add to it and spread that vision and work.”