MiraCosta introduces Pride Inclusion training


A Progress Pride flag flies outside of the North County LGBTQ Resource Center in Oceanside, Calif.. The flag’s colors are a symbol of inclusivity and solidarity within the LGBTQIA+ community.

Amelia Kaiser

In an effort to educate and encourage consistent action that supports lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer/questioning, intersex and asexual people, the equity team at MiraCosta College pushed out an online Pride Inclusion training in early March.

This training can be completed at any time during the year by MCC community members. In order to register, all that prospective participants need is a MCC email, which you can enter on the college website. The course lives asynchronously on Canvas; modules can be completed at your own pace.

Prior to the creation of Pride Inclusion, MCC offered Safe Space, which was a one-time training that educated people on how to support the community. India Pierce is a student services specialist for MCC’s LGBTQIA+ Equity.

“Ultimately, what we are trying to get at in the training is nuance. How can we present as much information as possible in ways that are helpful, but paint for people nuance,” Pierce said. “It’s easy to use broad brushstrokes in understanding those communities that we render invisible very important aspects of folks’ identity.”

Pierce encourages participants to self-reflect on their practices while interacting with the material.

“Overall, the training is one in which we are trying to get people to do some contemplation of their own actions and behaviors,” she said.

Scattered throughout the Pride Inclusion training are many discussion questions, activities and worksheets to encourage active engagement.

“At the end of [the training] folks download an action plan document that helps them think through their own areas of growth and asks them to commit to some things and to set some dates to it,” Pierce said.

Participants can choose to submit their filled-out action plans to the equity team and a member will follow up with them about their progress on the dates they state on the plan.

“One of the things that is important to me is that folks recognize that equity work is not a one-time thing. You don’t go to a training and are magically enlightened. It just doesn’t work like that. I’m not here to give you cookies and apples and tell you good job,” Pierce said. “This is the beginning of what should be a lifelong practice and a lifelong learning journey.”

Upon completion of the Safe Space training that preceded Pride Inclusion, participants received a sticker. The tradition continues, but now each sticker shows the two years the certification is valid to indicate if someone is actively committing to inclusivity.

“When it comes to training, as a queer person, my first thought when I see stuff like that is, oh, when did you get this and what does this mean about your personal commitment to continuing to do this work?” Pierce said.

“This grew out of some of the feedback we received from students. They were saying that they went to talk to a particular professor and were expecting a more affirming reception to things they were saying and instead didn’t,” Pierce said. “They were confused because the only reason they went to talk to them was because they were Safe Space trained and they saw the sticker.”

Max Disposti is the founder and executive director of the North Coast LGBTQ Resource Center. One of the services the resource center provides is educational trainings and workshops at all levels of the community.

“I think trainings are important to establish a role and a presence in a community. The more [trainings] we were doing, the more we realized there was an interest in the community to do better. But also, it was an opportunity for us to open a door in those relationships,” Disposti said. “It wasn’t just, okay, we come here, we do the training, and now you’re all competent about LGBT. Absolutely not. As you know, the language changes all the time. It’s more about, okay, we are here in the community if you need us.”

Even before California mandated police departments to be trained in LGBTQIA+ issues in 2019, the resource center offered workshops to local departments.

“One of our first trainings to the police was at MiraCosta College,” Disposti said. “It wasn’t a good experience, let me tell you that right away.”

“We were horrified by how the campus police was absolutely not keen to the needs of our queer students,” Disposti said. “I remember at the time I reported how frustrated I was. Some of them were absolutely bringing in their own personal religion in the midst of the conversation when we never brought that up. It was, really, one of the most challenging trainings I’ve done to the police, and I’ve done about 150 of those.”

Disposti believes a lot of things need to be done when it comes to creating a safe environment for students of color and queer kids, particularly in terms of policing. He describes MCC as shy about establishing a queer and trans-positive image in the community and encourages more participation from the institution, not just from the queer and trans population within the school.

“I don’t see [MiraCosta] going the extra mile,” Disposti said. “Usually the people that take the training are the people that know and that want to help. We would like the training to go to the people that might even think that gender identity doesn’t exist or that might have an issue even understanding pronouns.”

Disposti suggests that an on-campus center dedicated to LGBTQIA+ equity would be a major stride in the right direction in terms of systemic improvements.

“Having a training like that that evolves with the feedback, I think it’s really great. That’s again, if the institutions of MiraCosta will make that mandatory, at least for educators…that’s how you show your intentions,” Disposti said.

Those who participated in the Pride Inclusion training this school year were acknowledged at the Lavender Celebration on May 6th, an annual event hosted by MCC Equity that recognizes the efforts of community members to create an inclusive culture. The LGBTQIA+ subset of MCC Equity also manages Out @ MiraCosta, a list of openly queer and transgender faculty who want to offer support and information to students.

MCC Equity focuses on systemic areas of improvement as well.

“We brought [the Gender Recognition Act] to the attention of the campus and that was really paramount in guiding what it looked like for MiraCosta to move from a binary classification of gender on our forms and documents to one that gave space for a non-binary identification,” Pierce said. “We are trying to influence policy and encourage progression in a way that is always mindful of the experiences of queer and trans folk.”

Disposti calls the training amazing, but points out it is the product of queer people.

“I’m glad they’re doing it, but at the same time, what is the institution doing? I know now they are supporting and everything else, but we need more affirming practices from the institution, not just the queer people on campus,” Disposti said. “And that’s true for minorities as well. We shouldn’t have Black people’s voices only speaking about racism. It should be the institution stepping up and doing affirming practices. Otherwise, we’re all on our own. We go as far as we push.”

The Pride Inclusion training reflects MCC’s commitment to provide safe and supportive environments for LGBTQIA+ people.

“Affirming practices have to do with providing a culture that is affirming, not just when pride comes along, not just when there are initiatives of a Harvey Milk celebration, but really throughout the year. It’s always an opportunity for learning,” Disposti said. “If we don’t do this in college, when are we supposed to do this?”


3/7/2022 – 53 Views – 8 Likes – 0 Comments