Diversity Training at the Federal Prison in Victorville
We know that because of the Fair Education Act, the history of LGBT people and movements will no longer be excluded from California public schools, but did you know that there is a similar effort happening in prisons across the nation??
Recently, the United States Attorney General, Eric Holder, sent a memo to all Department of Justice employees, including prisons stating that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender history is to be included in all future diversity trainings. And Equality California had the opportunity to help kick off this effort.
Victorville is the largest Federal Prison in California and since this was the first program, we all feel that this might become a model for the future presentations around California. The group was large and diverse in age, ethnicity and sexual orientation. I was thrilled to speak in front of the 106 employees, administrative staff and community members in attendance.
Our panel, including myself and the Prison’s Program Director who identifies as a gay man, were the training facilitators. Doug Hairgrove, from Safe Schools, spoke about schools and the challenges for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth. Jim Stuart, a former member of the State Parole Board and current Chair of the Riverside County Substance Abuse Advisory Board, spoke of his experiences as a straight ally, working with LGBT folks on parole and his military experience in Vietnam which changed his outlook on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and Sgt. Ken Lutz, a gay Deputy Sheriff in the San Bernardino Sheriff’s dept. for over 10 years.
I gave a quick lesson on the history of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender movement from World War 2 until the present time. Following the history lesson, I had the opportunity to discuss tolerance and acceptance of lesbian, bisexual and transgender folks with the staff and administrators there, and had the opportunity to sway the conversations away from political sentiments and emphasized that we are talking about folks in love, who want to raise families, who want recognition, acceptance and respect.