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Music venue employees to go through sensitivity training

Posted at 9:06 PM, May 31, 2019

CLEVELAND — Employees at some music venues in Cleveland will undergo sensitivity training this summer, teaching them to interact more appropriately with members of the LGBT community and to step in when they see something out of line.

The Grog Shop is one of the music venues in Cleveland that plans to do “Safer Spaces” training with its employees, hoping to make the venue a place where everyone can feel comfortable and safe.

“There’s a lot of things that happen at venues that we hear about after the fact,” said Rachel Hunt, marketing coordinator at the Grog Shop. “And we wanted to create a way to make it easy for people to feel comfortable to report when it was happening, what was going on and ways that we could try to help stop it.”

Hunt reached out to the Cleveland Rape Crisis Center and the LGBT Community Center of Greater Cleveland. Together, they’re coming up with a plan for a four-hour introductory training session for employees at music and event venues.

“The idea is to teach sensitivity as well as appropriate behavior, and so we are going to teach folks how to create safer spaces within music venues by way of getting them familiar with LGBT terminology, updated usage of words, specifically outdated terminology that might come across as offensive, the use of gender-neutral language, the use of pronouns, gender pronouns, to identify a person correctly and be sensitive to their identity, as well as understanding the differences between sexual orientation and gender identity as well as gender expression,” said John Licatatiso, training coordinator at the LGBT Community Center of Greater Cleveland.

Licatatiso said the LGBT Community Center already offers some sensitivity training. This training, though, is unique in its partnership with the Cleveland Rape Crisis Center. Licatatiso and Vanessa Sampsel, manager of campus services at the Cleveland Rape Crisis Center, are still designing the training but said they plan to begin training sessions in July.

“Things like sexual harassment, gender-based violence, certain harmful behaviors, microaggressions, sexist jokes, racist, classist, homophobic slurs,” Sampsel said. “So it can be things like that, all the way up to completed sexual assault. The staff will feel like they have the confidence and they’ll have the skills to notice that something is up, and have the skills to intervene in those situations to prevent that harm from happening.”

Both organizations said the training was important and a way to change the existing culture.

“Today, younger folks especially are very aware of things that are discriminatory or things that cross the line, in terms of interactions that we have that are inappropriate, and people are more willing to call others out for it,” Licatatiso said. “We live in an environment now where you have to be very mindful of it, where we can’t really just brush it under the rug any longer. So this is a great opportunity to bring that education into places that would need it.”

Rachel Hunt and her coworkers will go through the training this summer, but for now, she is planning a benefit concert for this Saturday, June 1. Money raised from that concert, after expenses, will go toward paying for the Safer Spaces training.

“I’ve got six really amazing groups lined up that all have either female, trans or queer-identifying members as well as people of color, so kind of marginalized, people we don’t get to often see on stage but whose representation, to me, is super important,” Hunt said.