Pressing Issues 2023: How to be a stronger LGBTQ+ ally in the media and the workplace

The Press Club of Toledo hosted an engaging and thought-provoking discussion on Thursday, March 2 at TolHouse in Toledo.

Leaders from EqualityToledo, Toledo Lucas County Public Library and Owens Corning shared their experiences and helpful insights on pressing issues in the media and in the workplace.

Amy Brennan spoke about Courageous Conversations, which was implemented at her place of work at Owens Corning, as a way to have a safe space to communicate with team members.

“People sign up for a topic, listen and learn,” said Brennan.  Brennan went on to add they’ve discussed a wide range of topics like fears surrounding COVID-19, and more recently the deadly Michigan State shooting.

She reinforced that creating a safe space to openly discuss a wide range of topics helps to promote positive discussions in the workplace.  

Scot Henshaw with Equality Toledo said it’s all about creating a safe space for all people to work in. “Remove any preconceived notions of a person, get to know the person, and try and remove any stigma surrounding them.”

If a person self-identifies as lesbian, gay, straight, bi-sexual and so on,  it isn’t up to them to educate an entire company or business on their gender. Henshaw said that’s what Google is for.

Henshaw encouraged the group to create a working relationship first with a co-worker and then if a friendship develops more private questions can be asked but there should always be a safe and comfortable boundary expressed, or discussed.

Lucas Camuso-Stall moderated the discussion by asking questions about the group’s personal experience in the workplace, along with how the media is portraying LGBTQ+.

All three discussed how they can tell if a company or business is just “flying the pride flag” in the month of June and isn’t really living being open and accepting of all.

“We’re going to do our research,” said Camuso-Stall when looking to work at a company.  “We’re looking at your physical spaces, and policies to make sure you’re not just flying a flag in June.”

Henshaw said he feels like there is a lot an employee can do to help their company to come around to be more accepting of diversity and inclusion in the workplace. He said there are anti-trans bills popping up all the time and there is a lot we all can do to advocate and bring back to our companies to take a stand.”

Camuso-Stall ended the evening by asking “are we better off today than we were?”

The answers were similar, and boiled down to “yes”, but there is still work to do.