Columbus has worked hard over the years to make itself a welcoming community, and to continually keep tab on issues that have an impact on residents.
One aspect of being a welcoming community is promoting understanding — taking the time to learn more about diverse people and issues, and gain information that can be used constructively.
We’ve seen examples of this in recent years with community meetings or programs focusing on:
- Drug addiction
Sometimes the community has taken further steps to be welcoming, such as when the city amended its ordinances on protected classes to make them stronger for the LGBTQ community.
That’s why the April 25 Transgender 101 session at Columbus North High School, presented by the Inclusive Community Coalition, fit well within the ongoing community dialogue about understanding, and being welcoming and inclusive.
The first-time event drew about 60 people, and focused on gender identity, inclusion and empathy. It featured a licensed therapist who discussed how transgender individuals are marginalized by intolerance and a lack of acceptance, and ways residents can better serve as allies to people who identify as transgender.
Inspiration for the session resulted from backlash in 2016 by parents who objected to gender identity being made a protected class by Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp. Parents raised safety concerns of female students, particularly in locker rooms and restrooms. However, therapist Becky Waletich noted in the April session that students dealing with gender identity issues are more at risk for harm, such as being bullied, shamed and singled out in uncomfortable ways.
Students want to feel safe at school and local residents want to feel safe in their community — including those who are transgender. Feeling safe and included in your community is important.
The Transgender 101 session was another great example of the community taking positive steps to discuss an important issue and ensure that it is welcoming.