Training for Professionals

Bridges, Barriers and Boundaries: Introductory cultural competency training

Bridges, Barriers and Boundaries: Ensuring Culturally Competent Care

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender queer & questioning adolescents (LGBTQ+) are the only sub-set of the adolescent population which is routinely stigmatized and deprived of support in every major area of life. That these young people suffer the ill effects of societal stigma, isolation, and bias is evidenced by their substantially higher rates of substance abuse, depression and other mental health disorders; suicidality; homelessness; family violence; truancy; sexual acting out and other at-risk behaviors.

In addition, LGBTQ+ youth and young adults are coming out earlier and earlier a reality that has significant ramifications for services providers, especially educators, those providing out-of-home care, family members, community agencies and others. Often, youth-serving professionals however open and accepting they might be feel little prepared to deal with the issues associated with sexual and gender minority status in our culture or in their classrooms.  This lively, interactive discussion will offer participants the opportunity to explore the issues; differentiate between personal values and cultural myths or stereotypes which, if unexplored, can significantly impact one’s ability to work effectively with sexual minority populations; assess their own and their office, agency or school’s readiness to effectively serve this population, and develop strategies for providing affirming, culturally competent programs and services to LGBTQ+ youth and families.

Goals: Using interactive, small group exercises, experiential techniques and a respectful approach to differences of belief and background, this workshop will enable participants to:

  • Clarify and assess cultural views and values regarding this population of young adults and develop strategies that balance personal beliefs with professional responsibilities
  • Identify issues of risk, challenge and strengths specific to LGBT Q+ populations
  • Explore obstacles to the creation of agency environments which protect and affirm client and staff
  • Develop an action plan for immediate, short term and long term activities to ensure a safe, affirming and equitable environment for all members of the agency community


  • Introductions and Ground Rules
  • Opening Exercise: Impact of Silence
  • Values Clarification and Agency Readiness Exercise
  • Q+A; Next Steps and Close

Bridges, Barriers and Boundaries: Skill building training specific to the needs of your agency or organization

Bridges, Barriers and Boundaries: Skill Building Training

‘Bridges, Barriers and Boundaries: Ensuring Culturally Competent Care’ is a pre-requisite for this session.

We’ve all been to ‘basic training’ on LGBTQ+ youth issues in education or child welfare.  But the training usually ends there leaving us with few hands-on tools to address the situations with students or clients, parents, staff, and administrators. This training provides hands-on tools to address situation that arise in residential, day programs, groups and other mental health venues or in schools and classrooms.  Designed as an interactive, learning lab, this training is the perfect place to for participants to bring both their concerns and their expertise.

Goals:  This workshop provides participants with hands-on tools and practice in using teachable moments and other responses to interrupt intolerance, promote inclusion and ensure cultural competency of sexual and gender clients.


  • Introductions and Ground Rules
  • Opening Exercise designed as an icebreaker to prepare participants for the learning lab
  • Real Life Scenarios: Small group activity to identify and prioritize the issues and concerns specific to this group of participants
  • Learning Lab Activity offers participants the opportunity to explore a range of responses to the real life scenarios developed above
  • Feedback and Evaluation

When pink and blue aren't enough: Exploring the needs of Transgender Youth

When pink and blue aren’t enough: Exploring the needs of Transgender Youth

Although state sex discrimination policy requires non-discrimination on the basis of gender identity and expression, there are few opportunities for staff to learn about what it means to be transgender.

Depending up the length chosen, the training will include the following:

  • An Opening activity regarding Gender
  • An overview of the gender continuum
  • Definitions helping people differentiate  between gender and orientation
  • A panel of transgender folks sharing their personal stories (optional)
  • Skill building Learning Lab session

Lots of time for questions and answers specific to your agency, clients and population.

No Place Like Home: Permanency Planning for LGBTQI youth

No Place like Home:  Permanency Planning for LGBTQ+ Youth

LGBT youth are coming out earlier the average age is now 13 and in greater numbers.  As a result of the stresses that sometimes arise in a family when a child comes out, of number of LGBT youth end up in various forms of out of home care, including detention, foster homes, group homes, shelters, residential treatment, etc.  Numerous studies indicate that these children have greater difficulty in care more frequent placements, more disruptions, etc. For most of these youth, permanency planning translates into independent living.  But, is that really the best or the only option?  This workshop will explore barriers to permanency planning for sexual and gender minority youth and identify strategies that participants can use to help these youth find their way home.

Recruiting LGBT foster and adoptive parents

Recruiting lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and ally families as foster parents.

Foster families are hard to come by.  According to recent DCF statistics, of the 6,404 children in out of home care in Connecticut more than 1,900 children were living in something other than a family setting:  group homes, residential facilities, shelters, and other congregate care programs. There are more than 2 million adults living in Connecticut of those, even conservative estimates would indicate that more than 100,000 adults are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender.  Imagine:  If even a small percentage were recruited as potential foster parents, many of those kids identified above might have loving homes…  Obviously foster or adoptive family settings are not appropriate for all of those children.  But, couldn’t a significant number benefit from a loving family?  This workshop explores the questions: So, what’s in the way? And what can you as a recruiter or social worker do about it?

When a Child Comes Out: Providing Culturally Competent Support To Families

When a Child Comes Out: Providing Culturally Competent Support To Families.

Emerging research suggests that the single most significant factor in predicting outcomes for youth is the response of their families when the child comes out (Ryan, 2008).  The results of a multi-year, mixed methods study conducted by Caitlin Ryan and her team for the Family Acceptance Project™, at the Cesar E. Chavez Institute, at San Francisco State University, clearly indicate the profound impact that family reactions to an adolescent’s sexual orientation and gender identity and expression have on their health, mental health and well-being.  Ryan found that when families are highly rejecting, LGBTQ+ youth are at far higher risk for major health and mental health problems as young adults (suicidal ideation and attempts, depression, substance abuse, risk for HIV and STI’s), compared with young adults from families that were a little or not at all rejecting.

But, perhaps Ryan’s most relevant findings are that parents and caregivers typically become more accepting over time and that the outcomes for youth with ambivalent families are significantly less severe, compared with youth from highly rejecting families.

This workshop will focus on best practices for supporting families when their child comes out.

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