Microaggressions, LGBTQ, and Diversity


Monday, April 25, 2016

Start Time: 

1:15 PM

End Time: 

3:15 PM

Everyday verbal, nonverbal and environmental slights and insults — whether intentional or unintentional — communicate negativity and hostility to people with disabilities and LGBTQ individuals. This flow of negative messages creates an undercurrent of unwelcomeness and an ever-present hostile atmosphere for the disability community and LGBTQ people. In this film-based training, facilitators Barbara Diamond and Carole Zoom will educate participants on microaggressions against LGBTQ and people with disabilities and will illuminate the connections between homophobia, transphobia, body image and ableism.  Facilitators themselves experience disability and identify as LGBTQ members.

The training will begin with a presentation on LGBTQ identities. Concepts covered will include the gender binary, a concept that underlies many microaggressions against LGBTQ people, and the differences between cisgender, transgender, and gender non-conforming identities. Participants will then view What Are You?, a documentary developed in conjunction with educators from the Portland Q Center and Sexual Minority Youth Resource Center. Consisting of interviews with LGBTQ people, the film focuses especially on the lived experiences of people who identify as transgender and/or gender non-conforming. Subsequently, Barbara Diamond will facilitate a discussion on the film that encourages participants to not only understand LGBTQ microaggressions, but also to think creatively and proactively about how to address them in the contexts of the workplace, organizing, and interpersonal relationships.  

The next portion of the training addresses disability. Stacy Bias will highlight stigma that affects people with disabilities in terms of use of built spaces and how nondisabled society’s framing of “appropriate uses of space” reinforces discrimination that people with disabilities face in spaces of mobility. Carole Zoom and Barbara Diamond will give a brief presentation on three models of disability: religious, medical, and social. Participants will then view Zoom In, a film that documents the lived experiences of people with physical, mental health and intellectual disabilities. Some people featured in the film are nationally recognized artists and disability advocates, including Carole Zoom. The film’s interviewees describe the microaggressions they have experienced, but also the ways in which disability has informed their respective identities and world views.

The training will close on the discussion of the relationship between LGBTQ and disability identities. Barbara, Carole and Stacy will encourage participants to consider the similarities between ableist, homophobic, and transphobic microaggressions: how do they similarly enforce norms of how bodies should appear and function? How do these microaggressions enforce norms of how people ought to think or identify? The discussion will also include consideration of similarities between LGBTQ and disability identities, such as the identities of “queer” and “crip”. Stacy Bias will explore with participants critical disability theory as a means for participants to leave with an understanding of the physical and social barriers which disabled people face. Another question for consideration will be whether disabled and LGBTQ people discuss in similar ways whether they would choose to be able-bodied, able-minded, cisgender, or straight. Finally, participants will consider the writings and experiences of LGBTQ people who are also disabled, including author and poet Eli Clare.

Learning Outcomes

This training touches on many topics and ideas, but also contains concrete learning objectives. Participants will emerge with an understanding of the basics of microaggression theory, LGBTQ identities, and models for thinking about disability. They will have a concrete understanding of what microaggressions against LGBTQ and disabled people look like. Finally, participants will have the tools to think about the ways in which these identities overlap, as well as the similarities and differences between ableist, homophobic, transphobic, and fatphobic microaggressions.

About the Workshop Leaders

Photo: Barbara Diamond

Barbara Diamond identifies as queer and has been a union-side labor lawyer for more than 30 years. In 2012 she founded Diamond Law Training, through which she has produced three documentaries and training materials for diversity conferences, non-profit organizations, law firms, governments, and labor unions. A frequent speaker at the University of Oregon Labor and Economic Research Center, Barbara has presented her films at the Oregon Education Association Summer Conference, Teaching with Purpose Conference, and the NW Employee Diversity Conference.

Carole Zoom identifies as queer and disabled and has served as the executive director of the Coalition of Texans with Disabilities and voter access organizer for Lane Independent Living Alliance, and was the associate organizer for the Industrial Areas Foundation and the Oregon organizer for Stand For Children. Zoom began her career as a community organizer fueled by a passion arising from her growing up with Muscular Dystrophy in a time when people with disabilities had no civil rights. Zoom organized for the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Air Carrier Access Act, the Civil Rights Restoration Act and ran international leadership exchange programs for people with disabilities from all over the world through Mobility International USA. Carole Zoom is also a Japanese woodblock printmaker, writer and professional photographer, published in the Wall Street Journal, Sunset Magazine, the Washington Post and AARP National Magazine.