Wolverine Human Services Proudly Welcomes…
WHS has been working very actively over the past few years to increase our community involvement and information sharing. From the sidelines, I’ve watched the agency website grow from a ‘yellow pages’ ad to a comprehensive, dynamic, multi-faceted, community-oriented and, yes, interesting ‘user manual’ for the agency’s supporters, staff, and clients. I have seen the integration and ongoing development of evidence-based clinical practices into the work we do every day with our young clients. Teams of therapists and leadership have worked to ensure a trauma-informed culture. I was impressed and proud when WHS was prepared to step up to serve refugee/immigrant children fleeing from death and violence, despite protests and fear from some parties. Over my years with WHS, there have been many moments of sincere pride in being part of an agency that will stand in the face of opposition to boldly reject hatred, fear and ignorance. All to serve the mission of “Helping Children to Be Victors.”
Recently I had another one of those moments when I read through the WHS Annual Report that rolled out in April 2015. As I read the following excerpt, I literally swelled with pride: “WHS proudly welcomes LGBTQ families. We believe that love creates a family, and our goal is to see the children in our care placed with loving, stable and strong forever families of all shapes and sizes.”
My reaction was a deep and personal one, reaching back through the years to the adolescent that I was (ummm…we’ll say a ‘couple-few’ decades ago). Like many young people I had the challenges and benefits of growing up with 2 sets of parents. Like many young people (but not like most) I had my straight parents and my ‘gay’ parents. I vividly recall the stigma, the worry, and fear and the outrage of managing homophobia in our culture. Having had a gay dad and step-dad, I can recount many times when I had to decide to ‘come out’ or to remain in silence and suppression. Does a young person stand up for their parents and protest when a group of peers begins using derogatory or gay-bashing language? Is it safer to just let it go and remain silent, cautious and alienated? Do you invite friends over after school or for sleep overs—what if they or their parents are homophobes? Do you bother to explain to ‘haters’ that your parents love you, respect you, and are really very awesome people and dads?
Homophobia, like other discrimination and prejudice, impacts generations. I offered support over the years as my own son managed similar adolescent experiences and grew the courage to stand up for his grandpas (and the community) against stigma and hatred. These are only a few of the discrimination based challenges imposed on LGBTQ families. There are many others; legal, social, monetary, spiritual, etc.
Things have come a long way since then, but homophobia and myth-based hatred continues today. If in doubt, one has only to listen in a school yard to the names our boys hurl at each other as insults.
LGBTQ community advocacy and equity is a passionate and personal motivator for me. I became a clinical social worker, and I am honored to work with and advocate for LGBTQ community members and families. Resiliency and love, support and education have forged my own mission and mantra. I will not allow others discomfort or diversity impairments to influence my own voice for equity, respect and awareness. Much like WHS’ approach, I have learned it is vital to speak out loud for what is right and just. Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness…well, that seems to say it all.
Katrina Brock, LMSW, CAADC, CCS, is Director of Clinical & Quality Services at Wolverine Human Services. Katrina has over 16 years of direct clinical as well as administrative experience. She leads WHS’ Quality & Performance Improvement Department and is the agency lead consultant for accreditation with the Council on Accreditation. She is very proud of WHS’ new programs and evidence-based practice initiatives. On the side, Katrina enjoys doing outpatient therapy directly with clients and working with diverse populations of clients.