Ransom Everglades faculty and staff gathered a day before students returned from winter break for diversity, equity and inclusion training that focused on the LGBTQ+ community. Jessica Lam, a trainer for Safe Schools South Florida, gave a presentation and led an interactive workshop at the Lewis Family Auditorium on January 4 designed to educate and promote respect, dignity and affirmation.
RE's Director of Inclusion and Community Engagement Wendell Graham introduced Lam, a longtime ally and advocate for gay, lesbian and transgender issues who spurred the creation and production of South Florida’s first Transgender Education Symposium in May 2010.
Lam shared facts about gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, gender non-conforming and other topics, and she also offered guidance on communicating effectively and responsibly when entrusted with personal information related to gender and sexuality.
"The most important thing you can positively do is offer a safe space," Lam told RE faculty and staff. She also said: "You don't know the impact you might make on a kid's life when you use the right pronouns, and when you affirm them."
Lam urged faculty to get educated, avoid stereotypes and biases and be mindful of body language and words. "This is a process," she said. "Not just for the trans person, but a process for you."
Lam also discussed her personal journey, sharing her deep gratitude for her family's support when she came out as trans woman in 1995 before, she noted, "it was safe to be transgender." "When we come from a place of love," she said, "that really makes a difference."
Founded in 1903, Ransom Everglades School is a coeducational, college preparatory day school for grades 6 - 12 located on two campuses in Coconut Grove, Florida. Ransom Everglades School produces graduates who "believe that they are in the world not so much for what they can get out of it as for what they can put into it." The school provides rigorous college preparation that promotes the student's sense of identity, community, personal integrity and values for a productive and satisfying life, and prepares the student to lead and to contribute to society.