Rosecrance has made strides in recent years to be more inclusive with clinical practices and processes and promote a safe environment for all individuals who seek our care, including members of the LGBTQ+ community.
To honor Pride Month, two staff members discussed the importance of allyship and what Rosecrance is doing to promote an inclusive and welcoming culture for LGBTQ+ staff and clients.
Education and understanding
Rosecrance has made strides during the past decade to be more inclusive with clinical practices and processes and promote a safe environment for LGBTQ+ individuals, particularly for the transgender community. LaShonda Walker, Assistant Administrator at the Rosecrance Harrison Campus, recalled how much she learned from the first openly transgender client she helped care for as clinician at the Rosecrance Griffin Williamson campus more than seven years ago.
There were emotional discussions, fear and apprehension about taking showers on the unit, and learning about using the right pronouns. “I remember her struggles but also how much she taught me, how she helped educate me,” LaShonda said.
It’s a priority for her to be an LGBTQ+ ally in part because of her experience as a Black woman seeing the challenges of being included and supported: “It’s not the exact same struggles, but they’re similar.”
Being an ally means a lot of education (being willing to ask questions, researching, and learning from mistakes), supporting and advocating for progress and change for the LGBTQ+ community, and standing up in the face of discrimination.
Rosecrance has removed some obstacles and barriers to help get clients safely into treatment and services, and not allowing particular labels to dictate access to care.
“It’s about the client and how they feel in treatment, for them to feel empowered to find their voice and do what feels right to advocate for themselves,” said Therapeutic Recreation Coordinator Abby Nelson, who is an ally and member of the LGBTQ+ community.
Some of the experiences staff help clients navigate in treatment include discrimination (being excluded from families and churches), shame and guilt, and being taught that something is inherently wrong with them from an early age.
“We may not have all the answers, but we can demonstrate empathy, show support, keep them safe,” Nelson noted. “We show that the things clients are struggling with truly matter.”
Experiential therapy programs for clients work on inclusive projects like designing Pride flags and learning about the flag colors and what those mean and how they relate to recovery. Rosecrance also designs special therapeutic recreation activities for awareness times like Black History Month and Women’s History Month, and some in the works for Juneteenth.
In order to respect the range of perspectives, group discussion prompts often start with questions such as “what are you proud of?”
“We have to be really sensitive to what can be divisive topics,” Nelson explained. “That’s part of the client’s journey and part of our journey—to support people who aren’t ‘there’ yet.”
What’s happening for Pride Month?
Week of May 31: Rosecrance Central Illinois kicks off a weeklong “Rosecrance Palooza” where clients will participate in activities that celebrate recovery and recognize diversity.
June 1: Rainbow day, client-facing staff encouraged to wear rainbow attire as a sign of allyship and inclusion.
June 2: Rosecrance Jackson Centers is sponsoring a network-wide training titled “LGBTQ+ 101” discussing the challenges and opportunities that this community faces and embraces.
Week of June 20: Client-facing staff celebrating each color of the rainbow to encourage insight into what the colors represent and how those concepts overlay with recovery principles.
A project will be available at treatment locations where staff and clients will build a Pride flag to be displayed at the site with the prompt of “What are you proud of?” This is the second year for this project.