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Commitment to Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

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Building a Bolder, Braver, Better Big Sister Boston

Big Sister Boston is passionately committed to Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI). It is at the core of our mission, values, and vision of our organization, and reflected in the work that we do in partnership with our Big and Little Sisters. Yet, we know there is more work to be done.  

We Believe

Big Sister believes that the girls in our programs deserve access to a diverse community of leaders, ambassadors, and advocates who value and understand them. Although we have initiated programs encompassing many areas of DEI, it is our intention to have an impact that fosters a culture of community, collaborative leadership, and shared partnership, in this very important work of diversity, equity, and inclusion.  

Big Sister will continue to advance Diversity, Equity & Inclusion by working to:

  • expand the diversity of Big Sister Boston’s staff, mentors and board members to reflect the diversity of our Little Sisters
  • create an inclusive community that practices and promotes a sense of belonging and,
  • increase the understanding of equity and remove barriers that prevent Little Sisters from reaching their full potential.

We Are Invested

To support these efforts, we added a new staff position: Director of Equity & Inclusion and we are thrilled that internally our own member of #TeamBigSister, Courtney Leonard, has signed on to lead us in these courageous conversations and critical work. She can be reached at cleonard@bigsister.org

Racial Sensitivity Guide

In addition to our internal efforts, we also recognize a need to support our community. Our Match Support Specialists have worked hard to put together resources to provide additional support to our Big Sisters. Whether continuing your learning journey or navigating complex conversations with your Little Sisters, we hope the Racial Sensitivity Guide is a tool that can aid you in that journey. Please stay tuned as we work on expanding our toolkit of resources.

Click here to view our Racial Sensitivity Guide

Defining Our Sisterhood

We are both a gender- intentional and gender-inclusive organization. We welcome all who identify as women, girls, non-binary, trans, and gender non-conforming to be Big and Little Sisters in our program. We recognize that to be 100% invested in girls it is essential to support trans and gender-diverse youth in our community. Any Bigs or Littles who transition while matched are affirmed and supported in our Big Sister community.

Big Sister Boston creates a Sisterhood that fosters a sense of belonging by embracing diversity and continuously striving for greater inclusion and equity. By supporting our community members’ individual identities and lived experiences, we create a space where they can grow and become their best selves. 

The Sisterhood we create is formed by the relationships and meaningful experiences we share together. The foundation of our Sisterhood is to value those who wish to be a part of it. Our professional staff are here to support the individual journeys of our Big and Little Sisters, and the development of affirming relationships. We want to ensure that all youth, including gender-diverse youth, can participate in these impactful relationships.

For Mentors:  

LGBTQ+ people are welcome to serve as mentors in our programs. At Big Sister Association of Greater Boston, we recognize the importance of finding role models with a diverse range of lived experiences. Adult members of the LGBTQ+ community can offer unique guidance for youth exploring their own identities.  LGBTQ+ Bigs can also provide insights regarding strategies for self-advocacy and navigating homophobia, transphobia, or biphobia. As a mentor in our programs, you could draw on your experiences of exploring and expressing your identity to provide support and advice for youth in your community. 

For Youth: 

All LGBTQ+ youth are welcome to enroll in our program as mentees. Regardless of your gender identity, if you feel that Big Sister Boston is a safe and supportive community for you, then it is where you belong.  We also support transitioning youth. Transitioning does not affect your ability to participate in our programs or be a member of the Big Sister community.

Big Sister Boston embraces the diverse experiences and identities of our Big and Little Sisters. We are dedicated to supporting you wherever you are in your journey. We provide our staff and mentors with training and resources on how to the support members of the LGBTQ+ community.

A Big Sister is someone you can have fun with, as well as someone with whom you can have important conversations. Your mentoring relationship will be guided by your preferences. You are in charge of what parts of your story or identity you want to share with your Big Sister. Your Match Support Specialist will provide additional support and work to ensure that you feel comfortable in your relationship. 

 

Gender & Sex

Sex is typically defined as a biological concept related to a person’s body and gender is a social understanding of the roles assigned to individuals, often but not always based on social understanding of their body.

Gender Binary

A system in which gender is constructed into two strict categories of male or female. Gender identity is expected to align with the sex assigned at birth and gender expressions and roles fit traditional expectations.

Gender Identity

Our internal understanding and experience of our own gender. Each person’s experience with their gender identity is unique and personal.

Transgender or Trans

An umbrella term used to describe people whose gender identity differs from the sex they were assigned at birth. Many transgender people will transition to align their gender expression with their gender identity. However, you do not have to transition in order to be transgender.

Cisgender or Cis

A term used to describe people whose gender identity aligns with the sex they were assigned at birth.

Intersex

A term used to describe people who are born with any of several variations in sex characteristics including chromosomes, gonads, sex hormones, or genitals that can’t be classified as typically male or female.

Nonbinary, gender-nonconforming

A term used to describe people who experience their gender identity and/or gender expression as outside of the male-female gender binary. The term gender-nonconforming is a related term that is sometimes considered a more neutral descriptor and which some people find more accurate way of describing their identity than nonbinary. Non-binary people may identify as being both a man and a woman, somewhere in between, or as falling completely outside these categories. While many also identify as transgender, not all non-binary people do. Non-binary can also be used as an umbrella term encompassing identities such as agender, bigender, genderqueer or gender-fluid.

Transitioning

A series of processes that some transgender people may undergo in order to live more fully as their true gender. It may include social transition, such as changing name and pronouns; medical transition, which may include hormone therapy or gender affirming surgeries; and legal transition, which may include changing legal name and sex on government identity documents. Transgender people may choose to undergo some, all, or none of these processes. The validity of an individual’s gender identity does not depend on any social, legal, and/or medical transition; the self-identification itself is what validates the gender identity.

Gender Expansive

An umbrella term used to describe people who have a wider, more flexible notion of gender expression and identity beyond the gender binary and expected gender norms. It is often used as an umbrella term when referring to young people still exploring the possibilities of their gender expression and/or gender identity.

Gender Diverse

An umbrella term used to describe a community in which gender identity, role, or expression differs from the gender binary and/or expected gender norms.

Personal Pronouns

The words used to refer to a person other than their name. Common pronouns are they/them, she/her, and he/him. Pronouns do not necessarily go hand-in-hand with a person’s gender identity and/or gender expression.