DENVER (KDVR) — In light of the shooting at Club Q, LGBTQ are showing their support for the victims, but hateful rhetoric still remains.

Joy as Resistance believes some hate can be mitigated simply by education. Their goal is to teach acceptance not understanding, helping schools and organizations to learn how to be more inclusive.

Joy as Resistance is an LGBTQ support organization that offers mental health counseling services for youth and their families, mentorship, and consultations through a professional development program called Joyful Spaces.

The goal is to have social workers or teachers, or anyone who works in youth-serving spaces enroll in a three-part workshop that goes beyond just the use of pronouns, but also
being more inclusive through language, practices, and actions.

“A lot of times, teachers, and educators will see the need but not necessarily have the time to be able to find the resources and know exactly how to implement that, because teachers are overworked and underpaid. So it’s really important for us to be able to do that footwork for them, based off of what they’re seeing, what they’re hearing,” said Erica Castro with Joy as Resistance.

Castro said they create a non-judgmental space where educators can flop in the workshop instead of in front of a student and potentially cause harm.

“To be able to provide this education really is just like an open welcome door for adults to be able to engage with a concept and topic that, depending on generationally [or] where they’re from and their own experiences. [The workshop] can be something that is very uncomfortable for a lot of people and I’m okay with uncomfortable, but what I’m not okay with is feeling unsafe. I really feel that our learning space pushes people to really grapple with why they have misunderstood this community for so long and why that lack of education has existed,” Castro said.

Castro said the Joyful Spaces program is based on needs in the schools, if there’s bullying going on, staff using gendered language, or just a need to diversify based on student population.

They did a survey of students within DPS and found that 70% of young people had experienced harassment verbally or physically within the last two years and only 20% of them were able to say that they had protections in the policies in their schools.

“[Teaching a] concept of acceptance over understanding because I think a lot of times people can get caught up in this pressure to understand or in this shame spiral of not knowing the most, like most recent term to respect people. Then because they feel that they are not up to date on those terms, they will be quiet and then their educational journey comes to a halt, and then who suffers because of that — is young people,” Castro said.

Looking back at the Club Q tragedy Castro believes education is always beneficial. Still, it’s hard to make sense of a senseless act.

“It is hard to pinpoint exactly why [someone would carry out a mass shooting] and I think that education would certainly help support the normalization and removing the stigma. Because without education, there’s a lot of guessing and assuming and misunderstanding of this community,” Castro said. “I think that there is rhetoric that is also being pushed, and also legislation that is anti-trans and anti-LGBTQ, that also lets the masses know that it’s okay to discriminate. That is absolutely something that can give the green light to people who are already having those thoughts of misunderstanding and wanting to hurt other people. It’s super dangerous.”

Interested schools and organizations can fill out an interest form and the program fee is based on a tiered system, but they say they don’t want cost to be a barrier.