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Help Me Help You!

What is your life like?

I want to know more about what you face living life as an LGBTQ+ human in this world.

What struggles did you have on your journey?

What would have made life easier for you?

What does a happy life look like to you?

Thank you for your bravery in sharing your thoughts with me.

The email’s collected will not be used for solicitation, just to ensure one entry per person so the results are not skewed.

Featured

Yes, I talk about sexuality and gender with elementary aged kids.

You should too.

Why? Well, did you know only 26% of LGBTQ youth feel safe in their classrooms, and 27% of LGBTQ+ youth feel they can definitely be themselves in school? These facts came from the Human Rights Council (HRC) 2018 survey of over 10,000 LGBTQ+ youth ages 13-17 across the USA. Another fact discovered; only 25% of LGBTQ+ youth have families who show support.

Peers and family members are a major influence in how adolescents shape their identity, yet children do not feel safe exploring their identities in the environments with their peers and family. The outcome of this is high rates of depression, suicide, and chronic stress. This is is our why.

Children are curious, and natural observers. They notice when someone is acting or dressing differently than the majority or mainstream. They notice when someone’s parents are the same gender, or when the boy comes to school wearing pink nail polish. Without guidance on what to process about this information, students who look different or come from different backgrounds can be stigmatized, and then bullied.

A social stigmatization is a term used to describe what happens when a person receives a stigma label, or a mark of disgrace, as a result of being perceived as part of the “out-group”, or different from the majority norm. In this case, the stigma toward the LGBTQ+ community is based on sexual orientation or gender identity. To combat stigmas, the out group characteristics need to be normalized and considered mainstream. Easiest way to do that is to talk about it!

My background is in teaching young kids, ages 7-11, or grades 3-5. I primarily taught art, and would have diverse artists represented in lessons to strike conversations. One of the benefits to teaching art is that the act of creating, and analyzing contemporary and historical artworks, deep conversations about our society, personal identity, and experiences are begun. Through the shared experience of observing a work of art students will open up about what they have observed and their experiences or feelings. Some may giggle, some may think they are getting in trouble for saying the words gay or transgender while others will excitedly share information about their family member who is in a same sex relationship or a friend who has two dads. Having these conversations, acknowledging these relationships and experiences exist, is what normalizing LGBTQ+ vocabulary and therefore begins to remove the stigma around talking about it.

Art Classroom – a safe space to explore identity

Tips for a safe conversation:

  • Model how to have respectful conversations
    • Know what homophobic language and why
    • Check your assumptions
    • Create an atmosphere of trust and privacy
  • Sexuality is understood as relationships for younger children.
    • Lesbian, gay, bisexual, pansexual, asexual, and other sexuality labels can all be explained as ways people love and have relationships, or family structures.
  • Practice active listening
    • Eye contact, body language, rephrasing what was said are all important
  • Validate how people feel
    • Acknowledge someone’s silence as their right to pass
    • Ask student or person to use “I” statements with their feelings, and not accuse others of feeling something
  • Honor differences
    • Ask for pronouns at the start, use their chosen pronouns, and offer your own
    • Don’t point out someone’s difference but accept their perspective when it comes up when discussed appropriately (family of origin, race, class, gender, etc.
  • Challenge the idea, not the person


Let me help! Contact Lori to speak to your school, parent coach, or consult with you on LGBTQ+ issues.

As a LGBTQ Coach, Lori can offer advice, strategies, and education on inclusiveness, coming out, and more.

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Where People Go to Flourish!

Motherhood after Coming out and Divorce

Listen to Lori talk about motherhood, neurodiversity, change and transformation, and coming-out later in life.

“You thought you knew yourself.. but you didn’t” – the theme of 2018-2020 for me. Listen to this podcast episode as I highlight the emotions felt and things I learned on my journey of “who am I”. Discover how I told my children about our divorce and hear how I explain various aspects of identity. You may hear the word “Chaos” a lot, but also hear the self-compassion in the journey to the rainbow after the storm.

Reach out to Lori for Life Coaching support. No one needs to deal with chaos in the transformation without support, and Lori is here to help using positive psychology infused with their own experiences and knowledge of the journey:

Interview with Jim Masters of Close Up Radio

It is always a pleasure to speak more in depth with someone. Jim Masters curiously explores what it means to support someone through gender and sexuality coaching. Listen in to learn more about Lori and how they got to where they are.

“If you wish to live authentically and remove all these harmful mental blocks, we need to embrace our struggles to find ourselves and our sense of self- worth. Know that many people are going through the same struggles and we are not alone. From this perspective, we can move forward and follow our ambitions and goals. I am here to not only support you in your journey but help you positively thrive.”

“Growing up it was extremely difficult for me to admit I am a lesbian without feeling shrouded in shame because I heard people using the word homo and gay in a very negative way. Now I help my clients communicate and express themselves by exploring their identities optimistically and to love who they are because there is no shame in being sexually fluid or gender diverse, but it is something to be celebrated.”

Contact Coach Lori at coachlori@includelgbtq.com

Start the journey to living fearlessly! Book an appointment now: https://calendly.com/includelgbtq

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“Compassion”; what I value most.

On the “What’s the Value?” Podcast, hosted by Terry McMullen, I explore the role compassion has in healing & resiliency. I not only explain compassion, but also explore some of the harder stuff that could use self- compassion just to get through.

If you’ve listened to the episode, and want to share your thoughts or add to the discussion, please shoot me an email: coachlori@includelgbtq.com

Follow Terry’s podcast for more deep conversations, and start your journey to self compassion by signing up for coaching: http://calendly.com/includelgbtq

Feature on “Fat Chicks on Top”

What a great experience to be able to share my story with Auntie Vice!

Listen here, like their site and share with me anything that resonated with you. I’d love to hear from you! E-mail me: coachlori@includelgbtq.com

I discuss what it was like as a K-12 teacher, coming out while in a 10 year relationship, and transitioning into advocating for LGBTQ youth. Most importantly though, discussing what it was like going from living for others to living authentically.

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Forming your EMPOWERED Sexual Identity

“Coming In”

An empowered identity reconciles all aspects of who a person is. This is including culture, gender, sexual orientation, romantic orientation, political aspects, social connections, character traits, and so forth. Coming out lets others know who you are, and presents yourself to the world as you. Yes, this can be a great feeling when you’re safe and able to be you! However, “coming in”, becoming self-aware and accepting of ones own sexual identity, is arguably the most empowering awakening someone can experience.

What Can I Do?

One simple option is to take advantage of the various support groups and community events in your area. If you live in Warren County, NJ or near it, I host support groups and social outings! Visit my events page! Being around others who have gone through your experiences and can relate, or being around others who are similar to you, can be a very affirming experience and help you love yourself more fully.

Find ways to love who you are and drown out the negative self talk. There are many techniques to do this, some of which can be found with simple google searches for “self-care” and “positive affirmations”. If you find yourself depressed, sad, anxious, and telling yourself you’re not worthy of love frequently, please see a therapist. Check out my resources page and PFLAG has a great support lines list as well. The Trevor project hotline is especially helpful for youth to young adults, they give in depth training to volunteers who are loving and supportive.

How Coaching Helps your “Awakening”

Coaching can combine education, motivation, and introspective work to push through any walls blocking you from moving forward with your goals.

If you are looking to learn more about yourself, understand your sexuality better, and/or go through a life change that will bring about more happiness for yourself, then coaching can help.

Coaching can:

  • Help you map your relationship with social aspects and expressive aspects of the masculine, feminine, and non-binary
  • Create a road map to your relationship with sexuality: connection with intimacy, love versus friendship, the erotic, or reasons for any discomfort
  • Envision a plan to achieve life happiness- what does that look like to you and how could you get there?
  • Coming out in a unfulfilling marriage or relationships, or staying in them while holding space for your needs
  • Nourish and restore love for yourself, your new identity, and align life with your needs- all aspects of self care
  • Be a safe space to explore aspects of yourself you have yet to speak aloud, and find other resources to help you connect with your life goals
  • Hold you accountable to moving forward, and analyze what characteristics about yourself are holding you back
  • Build up your strengths so you can achieve your desires in life, and continue to grow even after coaching ends
black cheerful gays touching each other among luminous lights
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The Well-Being of Transgender and Non-Binary Individuals

This FAQ brings insight on what is impacting the health and wellness of the transgender and non-binary population. Overarching factors discussed here include discrimination, mental health, and disconnected identity. As a LGBTQ Life Coach, I help gender diverse folx from all over create their best life against the odds that they encounter.

Question: What discriminatory experiences do transgender and non-binary humans encounter?
Answer:

According to reports from transgender and non-binary individuals, discrimination stemming from their gender identity is commonplace (Carpenter et al., 2020; Horne et al., 2022). Discrimination prevents transgender and non-binary individuals from equitable access to public accommodations, civil rights, and other freedoms. In an article by the American Civil Rights Union (2021) that is tracking U.S. legislation, over 90 anti-LGBTQ bills were introduced, pending, or passed at the state level.

One example of discriminatory legislation includes restricting adoption and foster parenting access to non-cisgender heterosexual couples. Other unfortunate examples of reported discriminatory acts include access to bathrooms, retail shops, wedding venues, and transportation (Horne et al., 2022). These are just a few examples of discriminatory factors to remember when studying and working with the transgender and non-binary population.

Photo by Daniel Reche on Pexels.com
Question: Is it true transgender and non-binary identifying persons have higher mental health risks overall?
Answer:

Unfortunately, yes. Transgender and non-binary individuals are at a higher risk of suicide, self-harm, and various other mental health issues (Strauss et al., 2017). This is due to the stigma around being LGBTQ+, dealing with microaggressions, discriminated against, and also internally battling with ones identity being mismatched with the sex chromosomes they were born into.

Structural stigma, where the prejudice is directed toward sexual and gender minority groups and restricts opportunities and resources for the stigmatized minority group, negatively impacts the mental health and wellness of those discriminated against (Horne et al., 2022). However, interpersonal, and individual stigmas also drive discriminatory acts that are not structural and increase microaggressions or encounters of transphobic acts. For example, gender-diverse people are more likely to experience neglect, homelessness, bullying, and abuse (Strauss et al., 2017).

These discriminatory events that stem from being in a stigmatized minority group are the driving force behind the reports of trans people wanting to self-harm or acting on the thoughts of self-harm, having suicidal thoughts, and attempting suicide. Additionally, other mental health problems such as eating disorders, anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, isolation, and substance use disorders (Carpenter et al., 2020; Strauss et al., 2017).

Photo by Madison Inouye on Pexels.com
Question: What is it like for a transgender or non-binary individual to have a mismatching identity, and what does that even mean?
Answer:

To start, a basic explanation of what transgender identities and non-binary identities are would help. Transgender is a term used to explain the experience a person has of their gender not matching the term used to describe their sex assigned at birth (Sevelius et al., 2021; Strauss et al., 2017). Non-binary is a term used to explain how a person does not identify with either end of the gender binary (cis-male and cis-female identities) but can be between both at any given time or of the gender binary altogether with their sense of gender aligning with none of the typical masculine or feminine characteristics.  

To have a mismatched identity against the appearance of one’s body or when compared to the sex assigned at birth can cause anxiety, a sense of not belonging or being an outcast, and even create a sense of dysphoria (Carpenter et al., 2020; Sevelius et al., 2021).  Gender dysphoria is best explained as the disturbance some transgender and non-binary folks feel when their gender identity is opposite of their assigned sex at birth causing significant distress or impairment as their expectations for their gender role and gender identity are not aligned with their sense of self (The National LGBT Health Education Center, n.d.) When the persons’ gender affirmation is not happening, the dysphoric feeling and sense of discomfort are elevated, and the fear of being mistreated and desire to be perceived the way they identify is so great that mental health deteriorates (Sevelius et al., 2021).

Photo by Laker on Pexels.com
Question: How do we affirm someone’s gender identity?  
Answer:

Affirming someone’s gender identity is important to a transgender or non-binary person not only for respect to that individual but also for their mental health and to change public attitudes toward transgender and non-binary persons (Sevelius et al., 2021; The National LGBT Health Education Center, n.d.). Social gender affirmation will improve interpersonal relationships using gender-diverse person pronouns, clothing, name changes, and other non-medical interventions. However, medical gender affirmations will use hormone therapy and possibly even surgeries to help have the transgender or non-binary persons’ body match their identity to stop the sense of dysphoria they are experiencing.

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References

American Civil Liberties Union. (2021). Legislation affecting LGBT rights across the country. https://www.aclu.org/legislation-affecting-lgbt-rights- across-country

Carpenter, C. S., Eppink, S. T., & Gonzales, G. (2020). Transgender status, gender identity, and socioeconomic outcomes in the United States. ILR Review, 73(3), 573–599.

Gay and Lesbian Medical Association. (n.d.). Guidelines for care of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender patients.

Horne, S. G., McGinley, M., Yel, N., & Maroney, M. R. (2022). The stench of bathroom bills and anti-transgender legislation: Anxiety and depression among transgender, nonbinary, and cisgender LGBQ people during a state referendum. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 69(1), 1–13. https://doi.org/10.1037/cou0000558

Strauss, P., Cook, A., Winter, S., Watson, V., Wright Toussaint, D., Lin, A. (2017). Trans Pathways: the mental health experiences and care pathways of trans young people. Summary of results. Telethon Kids Institute, Perth, Australia.

U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. (2018). Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender health. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Parenting an LGBTQ Child

I know, it’s hard being a parent. I am a parent of two rainbow children (and one angel baby). The only thing in the world we want for our children is for everything to be okay. For them to thrive, live safely, be healthy, happy, and loved.

Well, I’ll let you in on a secret. If you’re reading this, if you are wanting this for your child, you are winning at parenting already. Let’s talk about it.

“So many things are possible just as long as you don’t know they’re impossible.”

— Norton Juster

Your First Steps.

As a parent who has an inkling, or has had a child express themselves as on the gender or sexuality spectrum, there are a few initial steps you can take for your child.

  • Listen to what they express and say, without judgment. Soak it all in, holding space for them with love and heart.
  • Validate. This simply means acknowledge their feelings they expressed, and their hopes, without judgement.
  • Love. Show love for them, and let them know you’re ready to hear what they would like you to help with next.
  • Move forward, with support, together. What is next for your journey? Does your child need help with friends, or school? If they are old enough to express what they need help with then let them lead, and ask how you can help. If not, suggest ideas on what you can assist with or do for them, and see how they react.
  • Move at your child’s pace, and realize they may change their mind on the speed or how they are expressing their identity. Children spend most of their adolescence formulating their personality and identity, and take feedback from their environment. Remain supportive with it all and you will be helping their self-esteem along the way.

Want to talk about it? Need help with a plan? I’m here for you, loving parent!

Let me be your coach. With over 17 years of experience supporting children and educating, and personal experience to draw from, I am here for you.

Where People Go to Flourish!

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How can gender be fluid?

Gender is a what we make it. We, as in our community and cultural ideals. What is gender to you?

Psychologists and sociologists can both attest to this fun fact: Gender is socially created. The way we feel about our own spectrum of masculinity to femininity, the way culture defines these terms, and how much and how we feel each of these characteristics can all be defined on a spectrum.



Defining Gender

Discovering ones gender identity includes a deep dive into four intersecting factors.

Expression, Internal Feeling, Societal Influence, and Sex Assigned at Birth.


To elaborate on the factors, I break it down briefly here. First, expression defines how a person wants to socially show their appearance on the sliding scale from femininity through masculinity, neither or both. Second, their own internal alignment toward societies definitions of womanhood, manhood, neither, or both. Three, their sex assigned at birth- the biological make up, their attitudes toward their body, and how their genes or hormones relate to their underlying desire. Lastly, societal influences toward their sex identification and any struggles with this.

Knowing this, one could see how gender identity could vary from person to person, and not be solely related to their physical anatomy. It is much more than that, and much more fluid.

What it says on your driver’s license isn’t really who you are—you are something much greater than that.

RuPaul

GENDER IDENTITIES

..

The traditional categories of male and female are considered limiting as more vocabulary and identity labels are being used to explain gender (Oswalt et al., 2016). Here are some examples of various gender identities. Remember, this list is not exhaustive, and whatever label someone chooses to use to identify themselves is valid, as people discover new ways to explain how they identify.


Agender – does not align with any gender or feels lack of gender
Bigender– identifies as 2 genders
Cisgender – aligns with the gender assigned at birth
Fluid– aligns with many labels for gender identity or sexuality
Gender nonconforming – does not follow social norms for dressing and activities based on their assigned sex at birth
Genderqueer – identifies outside the gender binary but may identify as both or neither, transgender and/or queer
Intersex –identifies sexual anatomy or chromosomal makeup that does not fit with traditional male or female anatomy
Nonbinary– identity does not fit with male or female
Nonlabeling- does not describe their identity with labels
Pangender– identifies with all genders
Questioning- unsure or exploring current identity
Transgender– an overarching label used when their sex assigned at birth does not align with their gender identity
Two-spirit- an umbrella term used by some indigenous North Americans to label non-conforming gendered persons in their communities
Undecided- not yet aligned with a label
(Oswalt et al., 2016)


Please share and let me know what else you would like to see written and discussed about in the blog!

References

Hyde, J. S. (2017). Gender similarities. APA Handbook of the Psychology of Women: History, Theory, and Battlegrounds (Vol. 1)., 1, 129–143. https://doi.org/10.1037/0000059-007
Hyde, J. S., Bigler, R. S., Joel, D., Tate, C. C., & van Anders, S. M. (2019). The future of sex and gender in psychology: Five challenges to the gender binary. American Psychologist, 74(2), 171–193. https://doi.org/10.1037/amp0000307

Oswalt, S. B., Evans, S., & Drott, A. (2016). Beyond alphabet soup: helping college health professionals understand sexual fluidity. Journal of American College Health, 64(6), 502–508. https://doi.org/10.1080/07448481.2016.1170688

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Need a LGBTQ+ coach? Someone to help with the coming out process or other ?

Are you on the gender or sexuality spectrum? Do you have a child on the gender spectrum? I can help you with the unique needs that come with discovering your gender or sexuality. Check out my services here and sign up for a free consultation on how I can help you.

Need more help? Contact Lori.

ACE: One Misunderstood Sexuality

Asexuality

Asexual, also known by the term “ACE”, is one of the most misunderstood sexuality terms under the LGBTQIA (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, and asexual) umbrella (Catri, 2021). Often accused of choosing to abstain, and subjected to skepticism, those with the ACE identity could use someone in their corner advocating for them. While having the umbrella term of “asexual” has helped ACE individuals find a community, and helped scientists begin to study their experiences, there is still a stigma surrounding this identity. It is time to debunk these myths! This article focuses on understanding the stigma so you can discredit it, finding your way to allyship, how to advocate for the marginalized ACE community, and how to help empower them!

Photo by RODNAE Productions on Pexels.com

Who says, “Everyone wants sex?”

You may be surprised to hear, not everyone truly is biologically wired to desire sex (Pasquier, 2018). Even with a sound physical check-up, the desire for a sexual relationship may either be non-existent or require certain types of romantic or sexual attractions. This is why the asexual orientation is a spectrum of identities, and people can fall anywhere within this spectrum. One simplified way to explain this is to say someone may not experience sexual attraction toward anyone, and that attraction and action are not always the same. The desire to have sexual interaction with someone else is non-existent and will not engage in it (Catri, 2021; Robbins et al., 2016). Although the ACE individual may be on a spectrum with their libido and have sex with their partner for the sense of connection or masturbate, or be sex-neutral-meaning they don’t actively seek it out as they are resistant to the act.

Bullet pointed chart on what asexuality is and is not.
Figure 2 Screenshot from The Trevor Project (2021)

 The challenges Ace individuals face are many. Science and society have traditionally viewed humans to be sexual by nature, and the presence of a low or null libido would present a problem to be fixed (Robbins et al., 2016). Some skeptics have even assumed that if the lack of libido wasn’t due to physical, hormonal, problems then it was due to sexual trauma in the past or a point of change between sexual orientations. This has since been proven through science to be inaccurate, that asexual women are physiologically like other orientations, and research on males has shown there may be biological pathways to developing asexuality. Still, due to the assumption that this is an ailment that can be cured, not an orientation or biological disposition, the Ace individuals feel there is something wrong with them and that they are not normal or may be treated as such by others. Ace individuals tend to be pressured into sex, are dehumanized, have an increased risk of suicidality, and have psychological stress associated with this identity.

What is an Ally? What Does it Mean to Advocate? Is That the Same Thing?

To be an ally is to continue to do what you are doing right now- learning (Day et al., 2020; Latourette, 2021). It also means to share the information, educate others, connect with organizations that help the Ace community and visibly show your support. To be an advocate is to also take actions toward supporting the Ace community, or even the whole LGBTQIA community. How? Let’s discuss that now.

How to advocate:

Continue reading “ACE: One Misunderstood Sexuality”

Professional Development Workshops

Modern Families: Incorporating LGBTQ+ families in the classroom community

This full day, eight hour workshop helps teachers and admin support LGBTQ+ folks in their school communities. This can help teachers with LGBTQ+ children, and understanding queer family needs or their value to the classroom. Participants will leave with resources for ensuring more queer representation in the classroom (books, pictures, works); tangible ways in which to support queer families (sample documents, non-gendered language); and deeper understanding of queer issues and concerns (current terminology, notable history, and current concerns). Due to the erratic nature of Covid-19, the workshop can be broken down into sessions virtually as well.

Need a different Workshop?

Other popular workshops:

  • Stages of Sexual Identity Development: Why do some people know they are queer and some do not? How and why do some people need to “Come Out”?

The stages from exploration of sexuality awareness, preferences, expression to the commitment of one’s sexual identities are explained and discussed in this lecture

  • Sex, Sexuality and Gender: Breaking Down the Differences

An introduction to the rainbow, with topics including sexuality development and gender identity or expression. A deep dive into what the gender and sexuality spectrum look like and how they intersect.

  • Parent Seminar: Understanding the LGBTQ+ child’s identity development and resources for the family

Long before a person comes out, they may go through several stages of identity development. For a child , acknowledging or understanding their sexuality and gender may be affected by biological factors and social stigmas they are subjected to. Parents may want to help guide them but not know how. This interactive lecture helps with that.

  • Stigma and Discrimination

If you have never understood how internalized homophobia is formed, what exactly it means to be part of a stigmatized group, and how that creates discrimination, then this lecture is for you.

  • Allyship and Advocacy: A Welcoming Schools Approach

This presentation discusses the differences between an ally, an advocate, and how students and faculty can be either or both. The best practices for supporting gender and sexual minority groups will be presented and discussed as a group. An inventory self-check list will be presented for creating a safe and inclusive space.

  • Seeing the Rainbow: Addressing Bias and Prejudice

An exploration of how bias forms, how it creates minority stress. A discussion on what minority stress looks like in a school district for both students and faculty, and how bias can unknowingly add to systemic oppressive practices. A voluntary self-assessment, which will not be shared with anyone, will be given to aid in their self-reflection process and make this invisible thinking process more visible.

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Include LGBTQ

L. Sweetman, Coach- Advocate- Queer- Consultant
Warren County, New Jersey
sweetmanlori@gmail.com

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Where People Go to Flourish!

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