Breaking Stigma

Let's Talk About Sex, Drugs and Homelessness

Breaking Stigma

Let's Talk About Sex, Drugs and Homelessness

Sarah Blithe:
Stigma affects society in some pretty
important ways. First off. it impacts

Sarah Blithe:
how people relate to each other, and kind
of a classic example is the invisibility

Sarah Blithe:
that people who are homeless sometimes feel. We are classically conditioned to

Sarah Blithe:
walk by people who are homeless without
looking at them, and so

Sarah Blithe:
it impacts this human interaction that we can have and the relationships that we have.

Sarah Blithe:
Stigma also impacts how groups interact with
each other. We still have institutional

Sarah Blithe:
discrimination, for example, where certain
groups of people don't get bank loans in

Sarah Blithe:
the same proportions as other groups of
people based on their social identity

Sarah Blithe:
and who someone thinks they are.  So
reducing stigma has benefits for both

Sarah Blithe:
individuals and as a society. I'm
teaching a class right now called Stigma

Sarah Blithe:
and Communication , and I designed the
class with the idea that we can reduce

Sarah Blithe:
stigma. In this class, we've taken field
trips - we actually we went to a brothel.

Sarah Blithe:
We are doing a service-learning project so
students are working with other students

Sarah Blithe:
with disabilities. They're serving people
who are homeless ... they are volunteering

Sarah Blithe:
in a variety of kinds of organizations.
We also then brought panelists and guest

Sarah Blithe:
speakers in. I've
tried to make it as engaging as possible

Sarah Blithe:
so that the students are actually
meeting different people and engaging in

Sarah Blithe:
populations, in hopes that the students
will walk away with a different perspective.

Cody Freeman:
I chose to go volunteer at
We Care Volunteers, which is feeding

Cody Freeman:
every homeless person in town.
Previously I had a stigma towards

Cody Freeman:
homelessness. I thought, you know, they
were dirty, violent, they fought.

Cody Freeman:
They chose to be homeless. And, by being
out there and interacting with the

Cody Freeman:
homeless population in town. I realized
that I couldn't be more wrong. These

Cody Freeman:
people are so thankful to have a warm
meal ... they're so friendly ... they're kind ...

Cody Freeman:
they're asking each other to go ahead
of each other in line because everyone's

Cody Freeman:
in there and they understand their
hardships.

Francheska Alves:
And with my service-learning project in the class was probably one of

Francheska Alves:
my biggest takeaways. I worked with Step Two.  It's a
treatment facility here in Reno for all

Francheska Alves:
women that have a substance-use disorder,
and it lets the women obtain custody of

Francheska Alves:
their children while in treatment and I
think my biggest takeaway was just

Francheska Alves:
seeing how there is even stigma on these
women trying to be in recovery and get treatment.

Daniel Lang:
I thought about how -  when we
visited the brothel - we had learned about

Daniel Lang:
just the types of clients they had. Where
sometimes it would be people with

Daniel Lang:
disabilities, and I'd realize that people
with disabilities, a lot of times they're

Daniel Lang:
stigmatized in society and don't have
ways to get sexual experiences.

Daniel Lang:
So meeting people who work in the sex
industry, I realized that they help those

Daniel Lang:
people who otherwise wouldn't have an
opportunity to have that kind of service.

Cody Freeman:
We talked about sex workers and we
talked about brothels ... you can even take

Cody Freeman:
it to a level talking about blue-collar
jobs; for example, we're cultivated as a

Cody Freeman:
society to think perhaps a plumber ... a
plumber is always going to be an

Cody Freeman:
overweight male who always has a butt
crack hanging out; but in reality it can

Cody Freeman:
be anybody. It can be a female ... it can be
a skinny male ... it can be somebody who is

Cody Freeman:
just providing for their family, because
it is a very lucrative career to have.

Cody Freeman:
So we're cultivated to think this way
negatively about a certain person when

Cody Freeman:
in reality, it's it's a great career
opportunity.

Francheska Alves:
Using the use of language and empathy I think in

Francheska Alves:
the class is what
really helped all of us see the

Francheska Alves:
bigger picture of stigma that stigma shouldn't
even be a thing you know it's something

Francheska Alves:
that's just like implied on people
because they don't know how to group

Francheska Alves:
them or title them so they just plant
this stigma on them that they're bad or

Francheska Alves:
they're negative for us. Changing the
language the way that you address people

Francheska Alves:
and talk to them no matter what they're
going through can just break that whole

Francheska Alves:
stigma because I think that's really
what's created the stigma is like trashy

Francheska Alves:
or dirty or addiction ... whatever those
words may be, that's where the stigma comes from.

Andrée Alcalá:
I think education plays a
great part in how stigma is reproduced in society, and if we start

Andrée Alcalá:
addressing that issue  from academia, for example. I think it's the biggest

Andrée Alcalá:
place where you can start that ripple
that will get people talking about it

Andrée Alcalá:
and that will start making people want
to change things.

Daniel Lang:
My biggest take away from Sarah Blithe's class is to always
lead with compassion. I think so often, I

Daniel Lang:
used to walk by someone, like a homeless
person on the street, and just turn my

Daniel Lang:
head away or at least kind of not look
at them ... but now I realize that just

Daniel Lang:
walking up to them, looking them in the
eyes and saying hi can change a life.

Cody Freeman:
Now as I'm walking through life, I'm able to
use these skills that I've learned in

Cody Freeman:
Sarah Blithe's class to view the world in
a complete different manner

Cody Freeman:
and to be able to to make those connections of
when I may be stigmatizing  a group of people

Cody Freeman:
and break it down from there, and
think about why am I doing that?

Cody Freeman:
And when you can think about why you're doing
that, you're able to make change.

Cody Freeman:
And if you're able to make change, you can share
that change with other people.

 

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