NABJ Will Be a Safe Space for LGBTQ+ Members, All Voices
A little over a year ago, I assumed the role of president of the National Association of Black Journalists. I’ve spent countless hours in conversations with our members and gained an even deeper understanding of just how diverse and nuanced our membership is. `
Our diversity is rich and includes straight, gay, bisexual, transgender, non-binary, queer, and gender-nonconforming members. Our voices ring strong, and all of these perspectives make us who we are.
When they are in the newsroom or in the community, our LGBTQ+ members and colleagues should be respected. When they are out on assignments, working at their desks, or in the editing bay, they should know that their perspectives are just as valuable as their colleagues’. And when they connect with their peers within NABJ, they should expect an equal seat at the table.
Still, after spending time listening to our members, including members of our LGBTQ Task Force, I have heard from some in the community who feel NABJ doesn’t value their contributions. In a recent survey by the LGBTQ Task Force, some members expressed years of frustration that NABJ has not done enough to support Black queer, trans and gender-nonconforming journalists in the newsrooms and within our organization.
We hear you.
I want to reaffirm that NABJ unequivocally condemns and will not tolerate homophobia and transphobia in this organization, and will advocate for any of our members experiencing those harms inside the journalism industry and within our organization. Whether we engage in person, virtually, or on social media, disrespect on any platform is unacceptable. NABJ will be a safe space for all.
I’d like to thank Task Force co-chairs Femi Redwood and Tre’vell Anderson for their steadfast leadership. With the help of the NABJ Board of Directors and a committee that included past NABJ Presidents, Founders and LGBTQ+ representatives, we are taking steps to punctuate and reiterate NABJ’s inclusive culture, one where all of our members feel safe, seen and valued.
Here are just a few details on what NABJ is doing going forward:
- We have hired a consultant to provide LGBTQ+ sensitivity training for the NABJ Board of Directors and members of the Sports Task Force Diversity and Inclusion Committee. That training is scheduled for December 5, 2020.
- Beginning in January 2021, we will provide LGBTQ+ sensitivity training videos for chapters, task force leaders, and members in general to raise awareness of unconscious bias or activities.
- We have updated our NABJ Code of Conduct and Anti-Harassment Policy, adding sexual orientation to the existing categories of gender identity and gender expression. The policy now applies to digital platforms as well as in-person events.
- New membership and renewal applications will include a link to the Code of Conduct and Anti-Harassment Policy that all must sign acknowledging their understanding of the policy.
- We will update language in workshop proposals for the national convention to make sure submitters are conscious about consideration of gender, age, geography, and diverse voices from inside and outside of the NABJ family.
In addition, the LGBTQ Task Force has worked on proposals for several workshops aimed at educating members on LGBTQ+ issues. They’ll start with the upcoming regionals on November 21, 2020.
As I’ve said many times, NABJ is the family we choose, and this family is committed to a healthy and fair environment where members, partners and guests know that they can bring their full selves to the table.
Yours in Service,