We Want You For You: The Acceptance and Inclusion of the LGBTQ Community

photo courtesy of moderator Sara Gerrish

The Junior League of San Antonio’s Training and Education committee hosts a variety of educational sessions designed to keep members engaged and informed on topics ranging from estate planning to human trafficking awareness. This member benefit helps further our mission of developing women and improving our community.

The most recent training opportunity took place on Sat. March 9, 2019 at the JLSA office where a discussion of LGBTQ inclusion helped define and encourage support for the members of this community. A panel of experts offered candid stories and advice on how we can support each other as we provide a safe space for people of all identities.

(L-R) Emily Leeper – Founder of Fiesta Youth, Gayl Newton – Business and HR Maven, Michael Ritter – Lawyer and Founding Member of the SA LGBT Bar Association

Members in attendance opened up with personal stories and hard-hitting questions such as the role of religion, where panelist Michael Ritter, a lawyer and founding member of the SA LGBT Bar Association, said, “It doesn’t have to be one or the other.” It is possible to live a spiritual life and embrace your identity. Emily Leeper, the founder of Fiesta Youth, an organization that provides a safe, non-judgmental space for young people to express themselves, advocated for several local programs and churches that embrace the LGBTQ community. Gayl Newton, a business owner and HR specialist, encouraged everyone to never assume a person’s sexuality or identity, but instead engage in genuine conversation with peers. A friendship is always the best kind of support we can offer anyone who may be reluctant to share such an intimate part of themselves.

The greatest takeaway seemed to be that love is love and members of the LGBTQ community are simply human beings who wish to be respectfully treated as such. Our president Joy McGaugh, who was in attendance, mentioned that the Junior League is a place of inclusion. We welcome all women, and we will treat every member with the same amount of respect and opportunity. Stay tuned to the event calendar for future opportunities to grab a seat and join a meaningful conversation.