Catalyzed by the Pulse shooting during Pride Month in 2016, the need and purpose for an intentional LGBTQ+ space internally for EP staff became clear. The important work of our EP Pride affinity group* started within two weeks with EP staff member Dan Rosenstein leading the charge to ensure those who identify as LGBTQ+ have a supportive community in the workplace.
EP Pride’s impact and offerings continue to ramp up in scope and depth since it began two years ago. Today, nearly 25 percent of EP staff participate regularly in EP Pride meetings and activities. Staff have access to a regularly updated EP Pride handbook, which includes a glossary of terms and crisis hotline contact information, and EP Pride led a collaboration with the recruitment team to ramp up LGBTQ+-focused efforts for EP Fellowships.
To kick off 2018 Pride Month, our EP Pride celebrated by hosting a virtual Pride parade celebration for staff to participate in! This special June meeting covered a brief history of Pride Month and held an interactive map component where staff shared where and how they will participate in Pride events across the country.
The start of each EP Pride meeting includes the “Unicorns and Storms” tradition, where the group shares wins and challenges happening locally, nationally, and/or globally in the LGBTQ+ community. “Unicorns” represent wins or something exciting (e.g. Moonlight winning best picture) while “Storms” represent something challenging (e.g. the June 2018 Supreme Court decision that ruled for a Colorado baker who refused to create a wedding cake for a same-sex couple).
This past February, EP Pride hosted its first half-day virtual retreat to raise awareness about current LGBTQ+ issues in the education sector and to build community. The genesis of this came in mid-2017 when the group wanted to design interactive team-building and professional development opportunities for its members. The inaugural retreat focused on work in Chicago:
Brian Johnson, CEO at Equality Illinois, which builds a better Illinois by advancing equal treatment and full acceptance of the LGBTQ+ community, provided a keynote about the state of LGBTQ+ equality in Illinois and across the country. Brian shared updates on the introduction of an Inclusive Curriculum Bill designed to require LGBTQ+ history instruction in Illinois public schools. More on this work and its progress can be found here.
On a panel facilitated by EP Pride and staff member Cornelius Lee, young leaders from the Illinois Caucus for Adolescent Health -- which works in partnership with youth, advocating policies and practices that promote a positive approach to adolescent sexual health and parenting -- shared their personal narratives of navigating as LGBTQ+-identifying adolescents. The students led an interactive virtual quiz with participants to educate everyone on fundamental civil rights pertinent to the LGBTQ+ community.
Adrian DeLeon, EP Alum and Co-Founder & CEO of Innovare, shared how he works to create more access to an equitable education for LGBTQ+-identifying students.
Affinity group members joined, in addition to interested colleagues across the organization. EP Pride also shared a few resources ahead of the event, including one from GLSEN, so staff could learn more about the LGBTQ+ population in their respective locations.
EP is proud to celebrate Pride Month in June and to continuously advance diversity, equity, and inclusion both internally and externally, as it seeks to be an active voice in ongoing conversations around LGBTQ+ issues in education.
*The EP Pride affinity group fosters a supportive, safe community for LGBTQ+ identifying members of EP staff to come together to learn about each other’s experiences and perspectives enhancing gender, sexuality, and orientation issues reflected in both the EP and greater education communities. As an open and affirming space, EP Pride also invites non-identifying co-conspirators who will be empowered to advance Education Pioneers’ Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion core value both internally, as it works to develop a cohesive coalition of staff members, and externally, as it seeks to have an active voice in ongoing conversations around LGBTQ+ issues in education.