LGBT-U Apprentice Q&A: Carter Roberts in Downing, Missouri

By Adam Polaski • January 11, 2016 • 3:58 pm

In 2015, Freedom for All Americans launched an exciting new program designed to strengthen the movement to win non-discrimination protections for all LGBT Americans: LGBT University, an ambitious training and development program for the next wave of campaign leaders. The first cohort, comprised of 16 apprentices from all across the country, is nearly halfway through the year-long training, which convened for the first time last fall in Phoenix, Arizona for training sessions and informational overviews about every facet of running public education and political campaigns – from fundraising to field to communications to strategy.

Applications for the second cohort of LGBT University are now open through February 7, 2016. Learn more here. 

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We spoke with Carter Roberts, who works as a therapist in a rural Missouri community, about his experience so far with LGBT-U – and why it’s important to him to fight for LGBT-inclusive non-discrimination.

Since you’re coming from the background of a therapist, why did you connect with LGBT-U, and what drew you to apply?

I was born and raised in Missouri – and now I live in a pretty rural part of the state. I became interested in this work on a professional level through my experiences as a therapist. I recently started an LGBT group specifically for our clientele to discuss discrimination some clients have faced in the workplace for being LGBT. I saw how these experiences created shame for these people – and I wanted to see how I could really get involved and contribute to change.

LGBT-U seemed like a good way to combine activist work and advocacy work and be a good ally to the community. So it was cool when I did get invited – and next thing I knew, I was on a plane to Arizona.

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What was the first convening like in Phoenix this fall?

The first night there, I realized that this was going to be a moment that changes my life. I saw that real change is being made in our country – and getting to meet with other people working on these important campaigns was really neat. I saw that this is how I get involved in – this is how I start to see real change so that later down the line, I won’t be seeing the same issues that come up right now, since LGBT non-discrimination protections are not in place.

LGBT University is such a great community. We come from all different backgrounds, but there’s a camaraderie here, and we’re able to learn and grow. – Carter Roberts

The training was full of the most brilliant minds. Every session, there was so much information – and there wasn’t one session that didn’t drive me to get involved. The trainers had this way of taking dry information and making it information that is relevant and useful and interesting.

LGBT-U is such a great community. We come from all different backgrounds, and we all identify in different ways, but there’s a camaraderie here, and we’re able to learn and grow. I was anxious about our campaign pitches and the questions at the end of the convening – but even though we were nervous, we loosened up and were able to put our ideas in action.

How has being involved with LGBT-U inspired you to take action at home?

Right now I’m trying to take this work on a very organizational level and seeing how we can include gender identity and sexual orientation in my company’s non-discrimination policies. Beyond that, it’s thinking of questions like, ‘How can we develop a safe space?’ We have good ideas flowing, and the more minds we can get into it, the more we can work in other states and with other companies. The more people we can involved, the greater change we can make.

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Why is it important that Americans push for LGBT-inclusive non-discrimination nationwide?

So much education needs to be done on a very public level. We live in a country that’s based on the American dream – so it’s time to chase these dreams. Right now, not everyone has a fair shot at the American dream, but when we put LGBT non-discrimination protections in the right context – that all people, including LGBT people, should be able to live without fear – we can move forward together.

Click here to learn more about LGBT University – and apply for the second cohort here before February 7.


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