Ithaca, NY – Born from a program originally launched in 2016 by an all-volunteer group called, Ithaca is Love The Tompkins Chamber, Visit Ithaca, The Downtown Ithaca Alliance, Planned Parenthood’s Out for Health program, along with support from Ithaca College’s Center for LGBT Education, Outreach and Services, have relaunched the “Ithaca Is Inclusive” decal program.
Many communities felt helpless after the terrible hate crime which occurred at Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, FL, in 2016 which targeted a gay nightclub. In response, vigils, events and the various ways that communities came together with a public show of support helped communities begin to heal. Ithaca was no different, and out of the quest to show solidarity and support, the original “Ithaca is Inclusive” decal program was created. Inclusive decals were printed and distributed to any business across Tompkins County affirming a commitment to the values of the program.
With local community members, business owners both new and existing, requesting more decals over time and looking for opportunities to convey that Ithaca and their businesses are welcoming to LGBTQ individuals and families, this group of community organizations can now help make that happen.
Any business, organization, or community space throughout Tompkins County is welcome to request a decal through an online form housed on The Tompkins Chamber website at www.TompkinsChamber.org/inclusive . Businesses are asked to educate themselves and their staff about LGBTQ people and experiences, ensure their business instills non-discrimination policies, and make a concerted effort to promote equity and inclusion among staff, among other commitments which can be found in accompanying documentation given to each decal recipient.
Celebrating the diversity within our communities – those things that make Ithaca ‘Ithaca’ and Tompkins County so unique – provides an important opportunity for local businesses and organizations to visibly declare they are committed to inclusiveness and to welcoming lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) people and families. This county-wide visibility program is open to any business or organization wishing to make this commitment.
Being an inclusive and welcoming business/organization to the LGBTQ community means business owners and staff believe and act in ways that show LGBTQ customers deserve the same kindness, respect, and treatment non-LGBTQ customers get. When a business/organization takes a stand and says, “we see you and you belong here!” it can make a positive difference. Being actively engaged in LGBTQ allyship means confronting heteronormativity, sexism, homophobia, biphobia and transphobia; interrupting bias, and stepping up to be a part of solutions to inequality and bias. Being visibly and actively welcoming to the LGBTQ community is founded on the belief that dismantling oppression is good for individuals, good for our community and good for business.
An important note: LGBTQ people also share many other identities and lived experiences. Actively welcoming LGBTQ people is one critical step. Making a commitment to learn about and advocate for welcoming spaces and places for people of color, immigrants, youth and elders, and people with various abilities/disabilities is another critical step.
Decals are available for pickup at the Tompkins Chamber at 904 East Shore Drive, at the Downtown Ithaca Alliance’s offices in Center Ithaca, and at Planned Parenthood at 620 W. Seneca St.
For more information about the program, ethical guidelines, resources to help train your staff, visit https://www.tompkinschamber.org/inclusive.
The partners relaunching the program are currently planning for future workshops and sessions that will be offered to area businesses and community members as a commitment to the shared values of diversity, inclusion and respect for all.