Equality course tools

Gender pronouns and is “guys” really gender neutral?

Have you noticed that some participants and facilitators put their pronouns on their name tent card? Have you encountered members that have questions about the use of pronouns?

As Steelworker facilitators and as a union, we can encourage equality in our workshops. Most Canadian legislation currently includes Gender Identity, Gender Expression or both in their protected grounds. For Canadian Steelworkers, our Yellow Sheet explicitly recognizes Gender Identity and Gender Expression. In addition, at the 2014 International Convention, the union recognized Gender Identity by adopting Resolution #7 – Civil and Human Rights. One way we can encourage equality for all gender identities and expressions is to share our pronouns at the beginning of workshops and encourage participants who are comfortable to do the same.

Using gender pronouns may require some discussion. Want some tips on how to navigate this? Here is a resource that explains the use of pronouns and some practical Dos and Don’ts you can implement while facilitating.

Gender Pronouns

Also, do you notice yourself saying “guys” to a mixed gender group? Where did this originate and is it gender neutral, or should you seek out alternatives to build a more inclusive classroom? Here are a couple articles that discuss the use of “guys” and some alternative gender neutral phrases.

Instead Of Saying ‘Hey, Guys!’ At Work, Try These Gender-Neutral Alternatives

The Problem With ‘Hey Guys’

It is also good practice to use gender-neutral language even when addressing single-gender groups. For instance, rethink calling a group of (people you perceive as) women “ladies.” By using gender-neutral language, we avoid making assumptions about or accidentally excluding anyone.

Dealing with challenging moments in equality courses

This is the third in the series of resources for facilitators of equality courses. While the earlier resources introduced self-reflection as a way to prepare for facilitation, this article discusses observation of participant learning. This resource helps facilitators to i) identify three stages of emotional learning, ii) recognize the emotions and behaviours related to each stage, and iii) intervene appropriately and effectively.

SOGI 1 2 3

As our union is celebrating pride across the country, we have a lot to celebrate but there is still work to be done. Our union is constantly working to look at how we can increase participation of our members, but we may be ignoring some structural challenges that limit peoples full participation in our activities. SOGI123  (Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity)  is an educators resource for teachers, but could provide some tools that could help you through some conversations.

Acknowledging Indigenous Territory

To increase awareness of Indigenous rights, many unions and other organizations now start events by acknowledging the Indigenous nations on whose territory the course or meeting or conference is taking place. Here’s a helpful template and an interactive map of nations and treaties to help you draft accurate, respectful acknowledgements for any location in Canada. This is also available in French here.

Understanding unconscious bias

As facilitators, it is important to ensure that we are equalizing participation in our classes. Unfortunately, our unconscious bias may be preventing us from doing this. If we recognize how our brain tends to favour or bias people, we can challenge ourselves and overcome the effects of our own bias.

This video, by the Royal Society, gives a very clear explanation of how our unconscious mind can control how we make decisions and judgements .

Personal preparation for facilitators of equality courses

Facilitation involves following facilitator notes to fulfill group exercises, teach new information, and build solidarity within the class. Facilitating equality workshops and courses, however, includes an added factor.

More preparation for facilitators of equality courses

Equality workshops can and should bring up challenging comments and feelings. As facilitators, we can’t prepare for the exact words and ways these challenging moments happen, and that can often make us nervous or even reluctant to facilitate equality topics at all. How can we deal with the unknown, in ways which are creative and effective?

Here are some questions facilitators can ask ourselves to prepare for equality workshops. The questions help us think about openness and resistance, challenges and limits, and strong emotions.

Identify Yourself! Facilitator resources to understand gender identity and gender expression

An upcoming challenge for facilitators in USW equality will be explaining and coaching classes through new materials on sex, sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression. This article will help facilitators build a background understanding prior to facilitating equality classes. In turn, the resources will help in teaching new material, dealing with questions, and coaching participants through challenging moments.