Advancing Allyship: One Iowa’s Ongoing Commitment to LGBTQ Education and Inclusivity
Over the past several years, One Iowa programming has grown and shifted tremendously.. In that time, our team has developed a robust training program and increased the impact of our community education. We have also risen to better meet the needs of LGBTQ Iowans that are looking for support and resources by building a resource guide and system for providing affirming referrals to community members. Even in our capstone programming like the LGBTQ Leadership Institute and Health and Wellness Conference, we have changed the scope of our programming to better represent the most marginalized LGBTQ community members. That continuous, gradual growth created the foundation for us to show up in 2023.
In many ways, this year was a test of our programming’s ability to adequately serve LGBTQ community members in the worst of times. As we saw mounting anti-LGBTQ attacks, especially in the areas of healthcare, the One Iowa programming team was called to meet new challenges. We developed timely detailed resources when legislation was signed into law. We pivoted our energy and time to supporting efforts at the capitol, while also responding to record numbers of direct service requests, which often came from scared and distressed LGBTQ community members and their families.
While the One Iowa Action team focused on fighting legislation, we prioritized supporting folks when things broke bad. Our goal was to show LGBTQ Iowans that we are on their team, and we strengthened our identity as an organization that LGBTQ people can rely on when they have nowhere else to go. We know that anti-LGBTQ hostility and legislation may only increase in 2024 and beyond. Your dollars directly support our ability to show up for our community members when they are hopeless, exhausted, and scared.
And while our program team dedicates hours to community education and trainings, our work doesn’t stop there. One Iowa program staff organizes or supports all One Iowa programming including our LGBTQ Health and Wellness Conference, which was in-person for the first time since 2020. The conference also included a record number of sessions in the history of the event and included offerings that focused on Trans-affirming healthcare, mental health, and Iowa-specific LGBTQ Health Needs. Meanwhile, we celebrated the 6th LGBTQ Leadership Institute cohort since the program’s inception in 2018. Seventeen LGBTQ leaders from across the state gathered in-person and virtually to grow their knowledge, build community, and develop plans and capstone projects focused on supporting the LGBTQ community state-wide. Our Leadership Institute shifted this year, based on alumni feedback, to include more time for community and connection and reflection on curriculum and challenges faced by cohort members. This program is one of our most successful capacity building programs because it expands the resources and reach of LGBTQ communities across the state.
In addition to these larger programs, our team works tirelessly with other community agencies to build connections and implement meaningful projects. We also collaborate on grants that increase safety in the workplace, expand our healthcare training offerings and support our LGBTQ Health Needs Assessment project and other public health initiatives, and improve our resource guides. All of this work happens amidst attacks on our community.
As you can see, while the One Iowa program team is often focused on reducing harm and responding to crises for LGBTQ Iowans, we are also working tirelessly to address the larger systems, like healthcare access and workplace culture, that impact LGBTQ lives and to equip allies with the resources and guidance to create inclusive spaces for LGBTQ Iowans. It is this combination of individual support and systems change that makes One Iowa a leader in LGBTQ programming in our state.
When you donate to our programming, you are supporting rapid response community care in addition to projects that create large-scale change in our state. Not only are you investing in the needs of LGBTQ Iowans as we grapple with emergent, unprecedented adversity, but you are building better futures for LGBTQ Iowans. When the state of Iowa says “Queer and Trans folks don’t belong here” we keep showing up, fighting, and creating a safer state for LGBTQ Iowans. Our work speaks for itself: LGBTQ people have always been here and we’re not going anywhere. We are deeply resilient and joyful and we belong here not only as neighbors, but as the foundation of what makes our communities beautiful. As long as the One Iowa programming team is around, we will continue to show up at LGBTQ folks’ side with support and community and care.