Creating LGBTQ+ Inclusive Intersectional Mentoring Spaces

May 23, 2024, Department, by Jonathan Echevarria Tolentino, MHS, PCC

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When it comes to fostering inclusive environments, it’s important to recognize that diversity encompasses more than just race and gender. To truly embrace diversity, we must also consider the 2SLGBTQIA+ — also known as queer — community and intersectionality. Let’s explore the importance of creating 2SLGBTQIA+ inclusive intersectional mentoring spaces and how they can benefit people and organizations alike.

Understanding the Basics of Intersectionality

Coined by Kimberlé Crenshaw in 1989, intersectionality acknowledges that individuals can hold multiple identities and experience various forms of discrimination simultaneously. Queer individuals, especially those from minoritized experiences, often face unique challenges that require a tailored approach to support and mentorship. Creating 2SLGBTQIA+ inclusive intersectional mentoring spaces means providing a space where individuals can show up as their most authentic selves to connect, learn and grow in a safe and supportive environment. These spaces allow mentors and mentees to share experiences, insights and guidance that cater to the diverse needs and identities of queer individuals.

Why It’s Important

LGBTQ+ inclusive intersectional mentoring spaces provide a sense of belonging. By actively acknowledging and addressing the specific challenges faced by queer individuals, these spaces foster a sense of community and support. This, in turn, boosts confidence, self-esteem and overall well-being. Secondly, LGBTQ+ inclusive intersectional mentoring spaces promote personal growth and help people to develop resiliency tools. Mentoring relationships can offer opportunities for knowledge sharing, skill development and, in some cases, career advancement. In a setting of inclusivity and belonging, queer individuals can explore their unique strengths, talents and goals, allowing them to thrive both personally and professionally.

Furthermore, organizations that prioritize 2SLGBTQIA+ inclusive intersectional mentoring spaces benefit from increased diversity and inclusion in every area. By creating spaces that value, support and embrace all individuals, organizations can and will provide services that are responsive to and encompassing of those diverse experiences. This diversity of perspectives and experiences leads to innovation and creativity and fosters understanding, empathy and collaboration.

Key Steps

Now that we understand the importance of 2SLGBTQIA+ inclusive intersectional mentoring spaces, how can we create them? Here are a few key steps:

  1. Education and awareness – Provide training and resources to mentors, mentees and organizations on 2SLGBTQIA+ inclusivity, intersectionality and embracing diversity. This ensures that everyone involved understands, respects and responds to the diverse needs of 2SLGBTQIA+ individuals.
  2. Recruitment and matching – Actively seek out mentors and mentees from diverse backgrounds, even when they are queer individuals. At QUEERSPACE collective, we like to consider factors like shared experiences, identities and goals when matching mentors and mentees.
  3. Safe and confidential spaces – Create a safe and confidential environment where individuals feel comfortable sharing their experiences and seeking guidance. This can be achieved through responsive mentorship programs that support the needs of the communities you are serving.
  4. Ongoing support and evaluation – Regularly assess the effectiveness of 2SLGBTQIA+ inclusive intersectional mentoring spaces. Encourage feedback and make necessary adjustments to ensure continuous improvement and relevancy.

William Sloane Coffin said, “Diversity may be the hardest thing to live with, and perhaps the most dangerous thing for a society to be without.” Creating 2SLGBTQIA+ inclusive intersectional mentoring spaces is vital for fostering and embracing diversity, inclusion and personal growth.

Jonathan Echevarria Tolentino (he/him/él), MHS, PCC, is QUEERSPACE collective consultant and Sexual Health Specialist for the Department of Public Health at Hennepin County (Minnesota).