Book Club Reviews COFBTB

The AAUW-OML book club in my home town recently reviewed the newest edition of “Coming Out From Behind The Badge.”  We couldn’t be more happy!

“This book includes valuable documentation of the key events and evolution of the gay rights movement and courageous personal stories. I was very moved by Greg’s journey and the anecdotal accounts of other officers–male and female-who risked their lives and their careers every day, who found their way to come out. Both the original publication, written a decade ago, and the updated 2nd edition reflecting the dramatic changes in gay rights, support a charitable foundation that helps LGBT law enforcement professionals in their career struggles.”

To read the full article, click here: omlcabookreview

Posted in Announcements

Remaining United as a Community and a Movement

I’m troubled by fractures I’m witnessing in the LGBT community where groups are pitting one against the other to the extent we are excluding groups from participating in events like pride.  In the last six months, I’ve seen examples of LGBT law enforcement officers specifically targeted and deliberately excluded from participating in LGBT community events because another LGBT group claims discomfort or dissatisfaction with law enforcement – not the individual officers being excluded, just generally with law enforcement.  And I’m hearing more threats from anarchist-type extremist groups who wish to disrupt pride parades this year if law enforcement participates in the event.  That’s right, these groups don’t even want other lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people, who happen to be law enforcement officers, marching because they somehow pose a threat.

The very reason we have pride celebrations today is to mark the occasion of several notable conflicts between police and the LGBT community.  Some of these conflicts, such as the Compton Cafeteria riots and Stonewall riots were exceptionally violent, but they caused a shift to happen.  The created change that today includes LGBT people serving in the rank and file in law enforcement.  Straight allies in law enforcement work to support the community and have, for more than a decade, marched together with the community in pride parades across the country.  In those early years, we were screaming for acceptance, support, and respectful treatment by police.  We worked to build a relationship and the police worked with our community.  It’s unacceptable that a small minority voice who has a beef with police would be able to exclude members of the LGBT community from participating in our community event.

Look, these are challenging times.  There are wide ranging opinions and beliefs about law enforcement, but exclusion is not the answer to fixing these problems or to building community.  I’ve said many times that you can’t have it both ways – wanting a relationship and trust, but not wanting participation by police in community events – especially when those participating are also members of the community.  Aside from the obvious hypocrisy, it’s not in our interest as a community to fragment.  We need EVERYONE, including allies, to be with us in our fight for equality and to stand against the challenges we face to our civil rights.  The very last thing we need to have happen in our community is to break apart, to lesson our numbers, or to become any less visible than we have been.  In fact, the opposite needs to happen.  We need to become more united, more visible, and recruit additional allies.

To those who reject corporate sponsorship and participation in pride celebration, I say don’t be a fool.  The money sponsors bring to the event pays for the permits, venues, and our ability to be seen and to share our message with the world.  The visibility corporate contingents bring to a parade shows the strength and commitment of our allies.  This is what we were craving in the early years and what we desperately need to continue our fight.  We cannot do it alone and any extremist group that thinks we don’t need the involvement of large organizations and corporate funding is naive.  Every gain we’ve realized over the last 8 years has happened in part because of strong support from allies and corporate America.  United with our allies we must remain.

The anarchists and extremists who advocate exclusion and disruption of pride events are working against the movement and our community.  They seek to harm, not help.  In fact, I question the motivation of these groups and suspect they create disruption for the sake of doing it and for whatever personal gain and satisfaction it might bring to the individuals involved.  I doubt it reflects at all their commitment to the movement as a whole.  Disrupting or stopping a pride parade is not an effective way to address grievances with law enforcement.  It will only alienate our own community and those who stand with us.

I call upon all LGBT organizations, large and small, to stand together and to reject the efforts of any group to exclude law enforcement or other LGBT people from participating in community events like pride.  LGBT organizations needs to take a stand and condemn obstructionist behaviors.  We must reject fragmentation and we must stay focused on achieving our goals for civil rights and equality.

Posted in Commentary Tagged with: , , , ,

A Tribute To Gilbert Baker

I was a walking through the Castro yesterday with my good friend Matt.  I passed by a storefront window and saw this picture being placed there.

I immediately went to my phone to search the news and saw the headlines.  Gilbert Baker, the creator of the rainbow flag, passed away in his sleep at his home in New York.  He was 65 years old.

I met Gilbert in person in February 2017  during the screening of “When We Rise” at the Castro theater.  We were standing in line to get in and there he was walking down the street saying hello to everyone.  I remember his big smile and how happy he looked.  I’m grateful to have had the chance to give him a hug and to thank him for all the work he did during his life that’s made my life today so much easier.

When I started the LGBT studies program at Napa Valley College, I reached out to Gilbert online and ordered one of his hand painted rainbow flags.  I thought it would be something special to share with my students.

When it arrived, I’m knew right away that it was too small to share in a classroom, so I reached out to Gilbert again and asked him to sign a full-sized flag for me and he enthusiastically agreed to do it.  When I share the flag, its history, and its meaning with my students, seeing that it was signed by Gilbert makes the moment for them all that much more real and special.

Gilbert did hundreds of interviews over the years telling the story of the flag and its meaning.  Here are two I think are especially good to share.

In 2012, Gilbert’s friend and fellow activist, Cleve Jones, sat down with him at the GLBT Museum in San Francisco to talk about the flag.

The rainbow flag is a powerful symbol of pride, visibility, and identity.  It signals a welcoming and safe place.  It’s become such a powerful symbol that in some countries, like Russia, merely displaying it can land you in jail.

For me, Gilbert Baker and the rainbow flag are inspiration for the work I do.  I only hope that I can give as much to making life better for others as Gilbert Baker and his work did for me.

This page is dedicated to Gilbert Baker and all the meaning he gave to his rainbow flag.  Thank you Gilbert for this amazing gift to our world.

 

 

Posted in Commentary Tagged with: , ,

Press Release: Breckenridge Police Lead The Way

Santa Rosa, CA. March 8, 2017.  The Board of Directors of Out To Protect congratulate Chief Dennis McLaughlin and the members of the Breckenridge, Colorado Police Department for leading the nation and being the first police department to complete the new LGBT Awareness For Law Enforcement course launched just this month by Out To Protect.

Breckenridge Police

Breckenridge Police Sergeant Bryan Ridge said that all 26 members of the department, including the chief, assistant chief, patrol officers, and community service officers are participating in the LGBT Awareness For Law Enforcement course. Everyone who successfully completes the course is receiving a  training certificate from Out To Protect.

Sergeant Ridge said,

“The training has been really beneficial for our officers. We have included it into our anti-bias training program.”

Out to Protect founder and CEO, Greg Miraglia, who created the course, said, “I commend the members of the Breckenridge Police Department for participating in this training program.  It’s great to see a department so committed to community policing and increasing the cultural competence of its personnel.”

The LGBT Awareness For Law Enforcement course was created to provide law enforcement professionals at every level of government with the basic knowledge and understanding necessary to more effectively serve members of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community as well as to support LGBT law enforcement professionals.  The course is available to all law enforcement professionals and students free of charge.

Click Here To Learn More.

Out To Protect is a national non-profit organization with the a mission of creating a greater awareness of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender professionals working in law enforcement and to support those pursuing a law enforcement career.  We provide scholarships, training grants, and educational programs.

For information about this release:
Greg Miraglia, 707-728-5428
www.outtoprotect.org
www.comingoutfrombehindthebadge.com

 

Posted in Press Release Tagged with: ,

Training For Law Enforcement

Now more than ever, law enforcement professionals at every level need to understand sexual orientation and gender identity – more specifically, they need to understand non-heterosexual and gender non-conforming minorities – the LGBTQ+ community.

Most states do not require any discussion about these issues in basic or advanced training programs.  The reality is that sexual orientation and gender non-conforming minorities exist in every jurisdiction served by every law enforcement agency in the world.  Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people exist in every race, nationality, ethnicity, and religion.  So no matter what the visible demographic of a jurisdiction may be, LGBTQ+ people are there.  We also know that LGBT people are targets for hate crimes second only to those targeted because of their race. Domestic violence is also an issue in same-sex relationships as it is in straight relationships. While LGBT awareness training may not have been readily available to law enforcement in the past, we are happy to offer a source today.

We now provide LGBT awareness training for law enforcement on a variety of levels.  We offer everything from course materials to actual training, online and in person.

Our newest book, “Coming Out From Behind The Badge – 2nd Edition” is an ideal foundational text and provides an excellent source of awareness training all on its own.  It includes chapters on sexual orientation and gender identity, LGBT history related to law enforcement, and guidelines for how to create an inclusive workplace.  Our course outlines and lesson plans integrate the book content into a “total training package” making it easy for an instructor to incorporate meaningful content into an existing course.

Our newest addition to the training we provide is our online LGBT Awareness For Law Enforcement course.  Now law enforcement professionals and students can complete a course of training on their own from anywhere with Internet access.  The course can be accessed in a patrol car or on a mobile device.  It too integrates our book and provides activities and videos to compliment the content.

We offer several in-person training programs that work well in a conference setting as well as within basic and advanced training programs.  We can provide everything from a speaker, to a panel discussion, to a complete community immersion experience.

We believe strongly in community policing and know that trust is central to every successful relationship between police and the people it they serve.  We also believe that an inclusive and safe workplace for LGBT law enforcement employees is central to the success of every law enforcement agency.  Our goal with all of this content and programming is to provide law enforcement with the knowledge and skills necessary to support its own LGBT members as well as the greater LGBT community law enforcement serves.

Posted in Announcements, Training Tagged with: , , , ,