Trainers are a valuable, specialized, and limited resource. Institutions should be thoughtful in their deployment and effective use.
Any training about a marginalized minority population should be done by a member of the marginalized group, because under-exposure is the key problem. However, expert trainers warn that lived experience alone is not enough to provide expertise. Lived experience accompanied by training experience and professional development is required for excellence.
First and foremost, trainers should understand and have humility in their training practice. This is a practice of self-reflection that is also included in conflict mediation trainings.
The LGBTQIA+ community continues to expand the way we identify and express those identities. Trainers should continue to get educated on updated language, updated standards, updated understandings and practices of non-binary identities. Professional development is important to have time and find ways to tap into the network of practice and presence in the community. Our cultures are not stagnant and they are changing rapidly.
Terminology is changing and people are constantly using new terminology, so it is always better to ask patients for their preferences and not memorize terms. Professional development opportunties include queer or LGBTQIA+ conferences, for example, Sex Down South, Philly Trans Health, and Creating Change. These are spaces where queer people have created spaces for each other.
REQUIREMENTS FOR TRAINERS
One trainer uses a “role acceptance form” a 1-page sheet that lets the trainer know what qualifications and expectations are for the trainer, time, education, obligations. Here are two examples, a Trainer role acceptance form and an Advocate role acceptance form. In these forms, the trainer or advocate signs and dates it, and the manager signs and dates it. This means that the manager supports the person in their new role and commits to have the time to develop their role. These role acceptance forms are appropriate for volunteer and employment scenarios.
FAIR COMPENSATION FOR COMMUNITY MEMBERS
If community members are utilized as trainers, they should be supported and reasonably compensated for their time and effort, either as part of their job or by other means such as gift cards, bus tickets, etc. Compensation should be consistent and not based on perceived value or have a tiered scale for the same content. Our experts warn that exposure is not payment and it is considered disrespectful to fail to compensate trainers and volunteers appropriately.
Compensation can be in the form of gift cards, or stipend. Some institutions offer transportation assistance, (in the form of a rideshare credit, or a bus ticket) and also food. For example, participants are sometimes given a coupon for meals or treated to lunch. It is important the organization be culturally competent when agreeing on compensation. For example, compensation should be offered not assumed.
Multiple trainers. It is desirable to have multiple trainers rather than a single trainer in a given session. A larger, more diverse training team provides greater opportunities for finding common ground and connecting with learners. Multiple trainers should coordinate their presentations to make the most efficient and effective use of the time.
Diversity of trainers. Learners benefit from a greater diversity of trainers. It is important to develop and maintain a training staff that includes people of color, LGBTQIA+-identified as well as non-LGBTQIA+-identified people from various age groups, and people with differing professional backgrounds and perspectives. Intentional efforts should be made to include LGBTQIA+-identified people, especially people of color. If the training team is not diverse, then the trainers should identify and proactively share local community resources, organizations, and networks that learners can access as part of the training. Videos can be made showing a virtual facilitator teaching one or more of the learning modules.
Trainers should receive training in how to manage aggressive or traumatic triggers that may be elicited from learners – both management of their own feelings and effective management of the learners.
Supporting trainers and providing opportunities for professional development. Training staff need opportunities for professional development to hone their skills, prevent burnout, and enhance the possibility of promotion within their organizations.
It is important to provide support for training staff who will encounter microaggressions, or overt hostility, in the course of their work. Trainers should receive training in how to manage aggressive or traumatic triggers that may be elicited from learners – both management of their own feelings and effective management of the learners. If they are willing to engage in self-disclosure as a training strategy, they should be coached and mentored on doing so in ways that are effective and minimize harm. Trainers should be encouraged to use paid time off and/or the employing the organization’s Employee Assistance Program as needed for mental health support. Workplace affinity groups can also be a supportive resource if available.
IMPORTANT QUALITIES OF TRAINERS INCLUDE:
- expertise in the subject matter(s) to be addressed;
- experience (lived or academic/professional) with the relevant issues
- excellent communication skills; ability to work collaboratively with a co-trainer
- the ability to develop rapport with diverse audiences;
- the ability to “read the room” and to proactively address situations and concerns as they develop;
- recognition of, and skill in addressing, implicit and explicit biases;
- skill at managing strong emotional responses (their own as well as those of learners); and
- awareness of their own limitations.
Acknowledging personal limits.
A trainer should always acknowledge the limitations of their own lived experience and understanding. When trainers come from the same or similar backgrounds, it is important to expressly acknowledge the limitations of their perspectives.
Fair compensation for community members.
If community members are utilized as trainers, they should be supported and reasonably compensated for their time and effort, either as part of their job or by other means such as gift cards and bus or subway tickets or other transportation vouchers.