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Ally Training provides safe haven for gender discussion

November 14, 2014

Ally Training provides a safe environment for students to talk about difficult issues and was presented at the Falcons Nest in the University Center once again this past week.

This training is popular and always well-attended with approximately 75 participants this time around.

An ally is a person who shares a common cause or purpose with someone affiliated with an issue that may not directly impact them. Anyone can become an ally to support others with different lifestyles and issues to promote safety and justice for all communities.

Ally Training is free of charge and brought to UW-River Falls annually by Student life. This training is designed to help those who support the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community combat discrimination and bias. The training provides words and strategies to use in situations when an ally would like to confront prejudice.

The Minnesota Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgendered Campus Alliance have brought this program to UWRF for the past four years. According to facilitator Jen Parshley, it provides facilitators and a program of materials to teach heterosexual supporters of the GLBT community how to deal with and confront discrimination and bias.

“Everyone is coming from a different place and we want to meet them in those journeys and just challenge people’s ideas,” Parshley said. “Challenge stereotypes and give them a space to have those conversations.”

The GLBTA Campus Alliance is composed of students, alumni, faculty and community members working together to provide safe places and acceptance for all since March 2006. Some of the programs offered by the GLBTA Campus Alliance include campus resource guides, further levels of training and education, and “Minnesota OUT!” which is an annual statewide conference about issues that confront the GLBT community.

“We hope to present Ally Training every fall semester as we feel it is our responsibility as an office to provide a space where students can reflect, discuss, and engage in a powerful and shared experience with their peers, faculty, and staff about their own identities and how to best support each other as a campus community,” said Karyrn Wells, featured events coordinator for Student Life. “Our hope is that programs like Ally Training help to create a more welcoming and inclusive campus for everyone.”

“Everyone should feel comfortable in their environment, and I am really happy I got the opportunity to come to this training, I learned quite a bit,” said Haylee Spindler, a sophomore social work major.

“It is really encouraging to see that so many folks were interested in learning and becoming allies,” said DeeAnn Rambo, UWRF alumna and participant in the training. “I am very impressed with this next generation coming up.”

“Ally Training is an incredible opportunity for all people learning about gender and sexuality is empowering regardless of your gender and sexuality,” said Ashley Olson, another alumna. “Being an ally to the queer community is an active process and the more information you have the better you’re able to be, everyone is welcome at Ally Training, even if you’ve attended in the past.”

If interested in future Ally Training opportunities contact Wells at karyn.wells@uwrf.edu or check the Student Life calendar at FalconSync online.