Celebrating Pride and affirming our LGBTQ+ community

Port employees carry an inclusive Pride flag

By Mindy Coolidge and Aaron Ray

One of the Port’s core values is inclusion. To us, that means creating a space where everyone feels safe enough to bring their full, authentic selves to work, in all their varying identities.  

We at the Port are committed to creating a safe and equitable environment for our LGBTQ+ team members and customers. This month, the LGBTQx and Friends Employee Resource Group (ERG) led a variety of Pride month celebrations and educational opportunities. 

Trans-affirming gender-equity practices 

Chuck Bernsohn in front of a brick wall

Because we believe that the foundation of creating affirming and welcoming spaces begins with communication and education, professional trainer Chuck Bernsohn (they/them) led a training on Trans-Affirming Gender-Equity Practices at Port-wide Town Hall. Chuck has an upbeat and lighthearted training style, which is inviting and welcoming to everyone — including folks newly introduced to gender as a spectrum rather than the male/female gender binary. As a follow-up to the training, Port employees joined a “Brunch and Learn” session to debrief the training, get additional resources from Chuck, ask questions, tell stories and learn more about ways to support each other as community members and allies.

PDX Pride Spirit Day

The Port of Portland and PDX are closely intertwined. At PDX Pride Spirit Day, we invited PDX employees to join in the celebration and dress in way that showed their pride. We walked through the airport terminal, spreading cheer and increasing visibility for the LGBTQ+ community – passing out Pride flags, rainbow bracelets, rainbow stickers, candy, pronoun stickers, and a handout with tips and tricks for incorporating gender-neutral pronouns into everyday conversation and language. It was a wonderful collaboration with Tender Loving Empire, and a successful event. Collectively, we created a space where Port and PDX employees and passengers felt seen, welcomed and affirmed.  

Stand in solidarity all year long

We also want to remind everyone that celebrating the LGBTQ+ community and advocating for our well-being is important year-round, not just during the month of June! We are committed to creating welcoming and affirming spaces every day, in ways both large and small — from honoring everyone’s gender identities and expressions through our language and behavior, to creating more amenities that everyone should have access to, such as inclusive restrooms.   

There are many opportunities to show your support for the LGBTQ+ community throughout the year, like International Transgender Day of Visibility in March, National Coming Out Day in October and Transgender Day of Remembrance in November. And it’s always a good time to talk with your friends and family about protecting LGBTQ+ rights, especially if they live in places where those rights are under threat. 

For more information about how you can support LGBTQ+ communities, please visit Basic Rights Oregon, Sankofa Collective NW and Pronouns.org

Mindy Coolidge is the PDX Volunteer Program Coordinator and Aaron Ray is a Senior Aviation Planner. Mindy and Aaron co-lead the Port’s LGBTQx and Friends Employee Resource Group (ERG).

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