Friday, July 27, 2012

Honeybee Campers Have a Dialogue on Gender

Sky Guilbaud facilitates honeybee community dialogue.

Camp Honeyshine, a program that “encourages the balance of mind, body and soul in girls and women”, invited YES Institute to have a community dialogue with seventy middle to high school "honeybee" campers.

“Camp Honey Shine provides an environment for young girls to learn how to develop their own voice and sense of direction in life by bringing them in contact with people, resources, and messages that are life changing.”

Some of the honeybee campers said:

“I specifically learned today that everyone is a human, whether they are gay, lesbian, bisexual, and/or transgender.”

“Today I learned that boys and girls shouldn’t be bullied just because they are gay, lesbian, bisexual, and/or transgender because that can affect them. They could commit suicide or hate themselves. You can have a friendship with someone gay, lesbian, bisexual, and still feel safe around them.”

“I’ve learned how hard it is for girls who like girls. Also for girls that change to boys. It made me sad, because to this day people don’t understand how harsh their words are.”

Thursday, July 19, 2012

WVUM The Voice Interviews YES Institute

Hyan Frietas (center) with Virgin Vandervlugt, RN and Joseph Zolobczuk, MS Ed., Director of Education. 

WVUM The Voice features a talk show called “Not For Profit” which highlights the work of non-profit organizations in Miami every Saturday at 2:00pm on local 90.5 FM. 

In July, Joseph Zolobczuk was interviewed about the work of YES Institute, and Sky Guilbaud and Virgin Vandervlugt shared how they and their families were impacted by the topics of gender and orientation, and how getting involved in YES Institute made a positive difference in their lives. 

Click on the following links to download and listen to the pre-recorded show broadcast: 

Segment 1

Segment 2

Segment 3

Segment 4

Monday, July 16, 2012

The DREAM Hotel is a Pioneer on South Beach

By Joseph Zolobczuk, MS Ed., Director of Education & Research

This week, the Dream Hotel became the first luxury destination on South Beach to train their entire front office staff and concierges as part of the Pink Flamingo Certification Program. Conceived by Steve Adkins of the MDGLCC and in collaboration with YES Institute, the Pink Flamingo program gives access to creating a welcoming experience for gay, transgender, and all Miami Beach visitors, residents, employees, and families.

YES Institute was invited by Dream Hotel to provide an educational dialogue focusing on gender and orientation as part of Pink Flamingo Certification Program. The Dream Hotel staff had the opportunity to be open and honest about these topics and sharpen communication skills to create a greater relatedness with guests. Committed to making a shift as an entire hotel, staff reflected on ways they could bring customer service to a whole new level.

After the dialogue, the staff shared: 

“I gained knowledge on language which will help me better address guests.”

“It definitely had an impact on me. Sky's story is very touching.”

“I found it very important for the type of work I do, and for human rights in general.”

The professionalism and ease with which staff can learn to deal with various situations can make all the difference in a customers experience. The Dream Hotel is taking the lead to achieve extraordinary standards for all of their guests.

Dream Hotel staff with YES Institute.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Miami VA Healthcare System Takes On Inclusive and Welcoming Healthcare for All Veterans

By Joseph Zolobczuk, MS Ed., Director of Education & Research 

Rachel Sottile, Executive Director, facilitates dialogue.

The Veterans Education Committee at the Miami VA Healthcare System is committed to leading the way in providing inclusive and competent care for all Veterans. As part of this initiative, they invited YES Institute to facilitate a two-hour dialogue on gender and orientation. More than 30 personnel including physicians, nurses, psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers and heads of departments participated.

Two YES Institute volunteer speakers, both of whom are Veterans, shared how their experiences around gender and orientation impacted their service and took questions from the hospital staff.

On September 20, 2011, the armed forces mandate “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was overturned. Months before on June 9, the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) had already issued a directive providing for “respectful delivery of health care to transgender and intersex Veterans”.

Even though military and public opinion is shifting, these changes are only a starting point in addressing barriers to care. Considering a recent JAMA article, 75% of medical schools surveyed in the US and Canada rated themselves "fair," "poor," or "very poor" on the integration of gender and orientation content in undergraduate medical school training.

Comments from the staff included:

“I learned the importance of open dialogue with those who hold rigid beliefs even if they are different from mine.”

“One of the most important things I can do is use the pronoun and name the person wants to be known by.”

“I’m going to share what I learned today. We need more seminars like this if we’re going to make a real difference for our Veterans.”

YES Institute looks forward to supporting the efforts of the Veterans Education Committee as they work to meet the needs of all Veterans and their families.

Jim Gross, a US Veteran and YES Institute volunteer, shares his story.

Monday, July 2, 2012

US Customs & Border Protection Officers Commemorate Pride Month with YES Institute

By Joseph Zolobczuk, MS Ed., Director of Education & Research 

Port of Miami CBP officers with YES Institute staff.

The topics of gender and orientation impact relationships everywhere, and the Department of Customs & Border Protection (CBP) is no exception. Comprising the largest law enforcement agency in the US, over 45,000 sworn federal agents and officers are tasked with overseeing 300 ports of entry.

This June, both the Miami International Airport (MIA) and the Port of Miami invited YES Institute to open a dialogue with staff as part of their diversity initiative. In addition to hearing first hand experiences from people who identify as gay and transgender, specific instances of fear and confusion around gender were also shared in the dialogue.

At MIA, all the officers expressed how beginning the conversation was a worthwhile experience for them. “I learned more about how different gender is from sexual orientation. It was extremely educational and a moving dialogue.”

At the Port of Miami, some of the officers shared their discomfort when the gender presentation of a US citizen didn’t match their ID. One officer recalled, “I was so worried about getting it right–I wanted to be politically correct and not offend, but what if I accidentally said the ‘wrong’ gender to them?” Rachel Sottile, Executive Director of YES Institute offered, “One thing you could do is ask, ‘How do you want to be known? What pronoun do you prefer?’ For many who are in the process of a gender transition, the ID checking process can be fearful and threatening. If you come from a willingness to acknowledge people how they want to be known, you can make a huge difference.”