While LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer) subjects are a hot topic, many people remain unaware of the experiences of this community. LGBTQ sensitivity is a major issue for middle and high schools, colleges and universities, businesses and organizations around the country and many do not know where and how to start addressing these issues. Recent graduate Megan Bolger '11 has founded an organization, Pride For All, in order to provide educational services and information on this topic.
Pride For All as an organization provides workshops, lectures, and general consulting services to businesses, schools and other organizations on issues relating to LGBTQ sensitivity and diversity. The organization’s workshops and lectures provide contextual information and education on current and popular LGBTQ vocabulary, heterosexual privilege, and ally-ship. Pride For All also provides consulting services for schools on how they best can strive towards becoming LGBTQ-friendly campuses. The organization specializes on small-group workshops which provide participants an open environment where they can feel comfortable discussing and learning about LGBTQ issues.
One of Pride For All’s goals, Bolger explains, is to increase individuals’ comfort and confidence surrounding LGBTQ issues, regardless of their previous exposure to LGBTQ issues or individuals. “It 's unusual that those who have little exposure to LGBTQ issues are given a forum to ask the questions they need to ask in order to best be sensitive and supportive to LGBTQ individuals and I’m aiming to provide that forum,” says Bolger. She goes on to explain that while she had concerns that the organization would simply be “preaching to the choir,” she was pleasantly surprised that regardless of a participant’s previous exposure to LGBTQ issues, everyone comes away from the workshop with something new.
“This subject is still largely left untouched, no matter what social setting one is in,” Bolger notes. “It's rare that individuals feel comfortable to ask the questions that are necessary for them to ask, to learn the current vocabulary, and to discuss the strategies to create open and welcoming environments. That’s why this workshop is so important.”
Founding Pride For All has been a challenging endeavor. Bolger says that many people are unaware of the important subtleties that help create open and welcoming environments, and may feel they have little to gain from the workshops. However, she explains, this workshop is designed to allow for those with no previous knowledge on the subject and those who are well-versed to come away with new information and to learn from each other.
Bolger’s current work with LGBTQ issues started during her sophomore year at Hamilton, when she attended a Safe Zone workshop taught by a member of the Colgate University staff sponsored by the Rainbow Alliance. After the workshop, Bolger was inspired to continue working with the program and throughout her Hamilton career designed her own Safe Zone workshop. Bolger conducted this Safe Zone workshop over 30 times during her time at Hamilton, training over 250 members of the Hamilton community. During her senior year she developed Safe Zone 201, a follow-up workshop to address more advanced topics such as biphobia, transphobia, asexuality, and intersectionality.
Encouragement from many members of the Hamilton community urged Bolger to continue to conduct the workshops, and ultimately to continue to offer them after her graduation at Hamilton. With this inspiration Bolger founded Pride For All and hopes to continue to conduct workshops and lectures and work with other schools, organizations, and businesses to bring Pride For All to their communities.
Bolger is a graduate of South Burlington High School (Vermont).