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Posts by Lisa Koenecke


Geez, that’s a lot of “G”s


Fun with Flags

Fantastic! Finally, Fun with Flags! Fabulous! Ok, enough of the alliteration, let’s get to the facts (ha). With our journey into LGBT frequently asked questions, today we will discover the + that often gets put at the end of LGBTQ+ (see what I did there?)

A shout out to Target for their celebration of PRIDE month (June), especially the first week of June. Last year, we were able to pick up many small flags that I posted in my office. Rainbow (Gay), pink/blue/white (transgender), and a bisexual flag (remember that from our letter “B” post?)

ICYMI, this is a nice summary of Gilbert Baker’s original flag from 1978 (Thanks, Pinterest!)

Today, the hot pink and the turquoise have been dropped and here is what we see most often today:

Now, let’s jump into the plus (+) of other flags an who they represent.

This graphic from Live Loud Graphics gives more insight on the different terminology in the LGBT+ community and the different flags that help give a voice to our identities. There may be groups you’ve never heard of — that’s fantastic! There may be groups that give voice to an identity you’ve experienced and didn’t realize there were others like you — that’s exciting! The purpose isn’t to divide an already marginalized group; it really is to highlight all of the different facets that make up our community and to celebrate each one.

This week, I encourage you to take the time to read through the resource above from Live Loud Graphics and educate one other person on something you learn. As their motto says, “Education is the cure for homophobia.” Thanks for helping us spread education and love!

~Lisa from Wisconsin (Lady Rainbow)


The Letter “E”…Equality vs. Equity


The Letter “E”…Equality vs. Equity

Welcome back to my LGBT FAQ blog. This week, we look at the difference between the terms equality and equity. By definition, equality is ensuring individuals or groups of individuals are not treated differently or less favorably, on the basis of their specific protected characteristic, including areas of race, gender, disability, religion or belief, sexual orientation and age (check out that Enumeration!). While equity means the quality of being fair or impartial ( These terms can be confusing, so you’ll often see different analogies to help make the difference a bit easier to understand. Which one is your favorite?

Thank you to our friends at Public Policy & Governance Review in Toronto, Canada for this image!

My favorite is the shoe analogy (and they’re rainbow!). Equality is giving everyone a shoe. Equity is giving everyone a shoe that fits.
– Naheed Dosani

I would even go a bit further to add inclusion meaning that everyone has a shoe that fits, is comfortable and matches their sense of style. The first time I heard the shoe analogy to represent Equality vs. Equity was at a training called “Courageous Conversations.” This training was early in my school counseling career and reminded me of growing up with an uncle who had polio. His physical limitations were perhaps equal to those needing the specified parking space, but his brilliant mind gave him equity in his place of work.

Perhaps you have seen the analogy of the people watching a ball game and there are three boxes. Each individual is of a different height trying to see over the fence. Equality is that each person has a box upon which to stand. Equity is that the tallest person can see over the fence without a box, the middle person has one box and and can now see over the fence and the third person is standing on two boxes in order to see over the fence. What if we removed the fence all together? Let’s consider taking away barriers in order to promote equity.

Using the word “versus” in between Equality and Equity shouldn’t be seen as a competition. Depending upon where you are in your cultural awareness, or how your life experiences have shaped the lens through which you view the world, I might suggest that we all strive for Success for ALL! When you’re just starting your journey, equality is a good place to start. However if you look at the illustration below, you’ll see that while many might benefit from one solution, through an equitable solution(shoveling the ramp first), everyone will benefit using the ramp.

Source: Peytral Publications

Ahhh, good old Wisconsin winters…but this illustrates the difference between equity and equality. Equity is good for ALL. Think about those registration forms I refer to in earlier blog posts. By asking for adult 1 or caregiver 1 rather than “mom” and “dad“, you are now including grandparents, foster parents, or another relative caring for that student. Oh, and not everyone is a husband or a wife or a mom or a dad!

Cheryl Wheeler is a singer songwriter and just happens to sing one of our favorites, “Ghandi & Buddha.” In this version, she introduces the song sharing how she was happy to finally be able to marry her wife. She apologizes — tongue in cheek — for how our gay marriages have ruined all of the heterosexual marriages. In other words, by giving everyone the right to marry, whose marriage has that hurt? AND now we have access to the 1,100 protections and laws that heterosexual couples have enjoyed throughout time, while not taking a single protection away from hetero couple’s marriages. Win-win when love wins!

So, in terms of equality, we can equally get married as all can. On the other hand, equity is felt in some areas more than others. We chose to live in Madison, Wisconsin, which for the most part is a very welcoming city. It’s nice when I call to make an appointment for my wife that I only get asked a couple of questions. Not sure if we were a male and a female if I would face the same questions, however I don’t get push-back or a negative reaction that can occur in some less-equitable areas. However when we go out to dinner as a couple, we still get asked if we want separate checks, even if we’ve been holding hands across the table throughout our meal.

Thanks for reading this article. I hoped you enjoyed the song by Cheryl Wheeler. Your call to action is to do something GREAT to make things more equitable in your work space! Stand up for those without a voice. Take the time to educate someone needing that lesson on how to treat people! Think about this… intelligence is distributed equally, but opportunity is not!

~Lisa from Wisconsin (Lady Rainbow)


The Letter “D”…Diversity Equity & Inclusion (DEI)

How interesting! When I typed “DEI” into a search engine, what do you think was the first thing that popped up? If you said, DEI, a Greek national electric company, I say, “OPA!” to you. Next, I found Dale Ehrnhardt, Inc. Go cars! Finally, I found what I was hoping for: Diversity Equity & Inclusion. This term is being used in workplaces to raise awareness of individual needs as well as to highlight the benefits of greater diversity in our workplaces. It’s pretty common to hire people who look and think like us — how about where you live/work? I have to say that is my truth. As a lesbian, I often feel like I am THE diversity in the room, so I have used that as an opportunity to educate those around me with lots & LOTS of rainbows!

What is the meaning of diversity and inclusion in the workplace? Thanks for asking! And thanks to our friends at SHRM (Society for Human Resource Management) for their definition. Inclusion, while closely related, is a separate concept from diversity. SHRM defines inclusion as “the achievement of a work environment in which all individuals are treated fairly and respectfully, have equal access to opportunities and resources, and can contribute fully to the organization’s success. Mar 6, 2014.” If you want to learn more about building a business case for diversity and inclusion, please go to SHRM’s website for a great resource.

As a school counselor, diversity training was always a part of back-to-school pre-service work. We might have used the terms “Celebrate Diversity” or made bulletin boards to reflect our student body. I bring up the school examples because I am now working at a university and I want to bring my message to the business world.

One of the first steps in raising DEI in your organization is to raise awareness through a company- or school-wide definition of what DEI means to you. A great example to get you started on this path comes from the University of Michigan.

Erica McCool, this one goes out to you!

Defining diversity, equity and inclusion

At the University of Michigan, our dedication to academic excellence for the public good is inseparable from our commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion. It is central to our mission as an educational institution to ensure that each member of our community has full opportunity to thrive in our environment, for we believe that diversity is key to individual flourishing, educational excellence and the advancement of knowledge.

Diversity: We commit to increasing diversity, which is expressed in myriad forms, including race and ethnicity, gender and gender identity, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, language, culture, national origin, religious commitments, age, (dis)ability status and political perspective.

Equity: We commit to working actively to challenge and respond to bias, harassment, and discrimination. We are committed to a policy of equal opportunity for all persons and do not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, marital status, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, disability, religion, height, weight, or veteran status.

Inclusion: We commit to pursuing deliberate efforts to ensure that our campus is a place where differences are welcomed, different perspectives are respectfully heard and where every individual feels a sense of belonging and inclusion. We know that by building a critical mass of diverse groups on campus and creating a vibrant climate of inclusiveness, we can more effectively leverage the resources of diversity to advance our collective capabilities.

Chief Diversity Officer Robert Sellers often has emphasized the importance of considering all three topics – diversity, equity and inclusion – which he likened to various aspects of attending a dance:

“Diversity is where everyone is invited to the party.

“Equity means that everyone gets to contribute to the playlist.

“And inclusion means that everyone has the opportunity to dance.” (2019)

Your call to action on Diversity Equity and Inclusion is to make sure your registration forms, artwork on the walls, and actions are in alignment with a positive atmostphere for all. Ask your human resources person/people if they have the DEI certification! And while it would be amazing for you all to adopt a DEI definition and policy, you know you can always start with a rainbow on your lanyard or desk! Let’s all dance together!

~Lisa from Wisconsin (Lady Rainbow)



Welcome to the letter “C” in Lisa’s LGBT FAQ A-Z resources blog. Enough letters for you? The word Cisgender was a new term to me, maybe it is a new term for you as well. Let’s explore together!

Cis(gender): Adjective that means “identifies as their sex assigned at birth” derived from the Latin word meaning “on the same side.” (Gale Stone, that’s for you!) A cisgender/cis person is not transgender. “Cisgender” does not indicate biology, gender expression, or sexuality/sexual orientation. In discussions regarding trans issues, one would differentiate between women who are trans and women who aren’t by saying trans women and cis women. Cis is not a “fake” word and is not a slur. Note that cisgender does not have an “ed” at the end.

So, I, Lisa Koenecke identify as cisgender. That is my gender identity. I also identify as a lesbian, that is my sexual orientation because I am attracted to women. Confused? It’s ok if you are, I appreciate your willingness to learn with me. The use of the term cisgender took off around 2010– See, you haven’t missed a lot!

In fact, according to the Merriam Webster Dictionary this word, cisgender was added in April 2017.

As the term transgender has become increasingly prominent in the lexicon, a contrasting term has also settled into the language. Cisgender (often shortened to cis) describes someone whose internal sense of gender corresponds with the sex the person had or was identified as having at birth. According to a 2016 New York Times article, it’s estimated that approximately .6 % of people are transgender, so it follows that most people can be described as cisgender. If the pronouncement your mom heard at your birth—It’s a girl! or It’s a boy!—still feels like it was accurate, then you’re cisgender.

Cisgender/Cis is the opposite of transgender. Dang, look at your brain growing! Impressive!

Thanks for taking time to learn about the term Cisgender. Here’s your call to action (CTA): When you are invited to a baby shower, or you have a baby present to give, please think about using neutral colors like green and yellow (Go Packers) rather than pink and blue. Gender reveal parties are all the rage, however, they might box the new human into a binary box. (You’ll learn more about “binary” when we get to the letter G. Stay tuned!) I have pictures of me in dresses and wearing pink…back in the early 1970’s that’s what was done. So, why did I like playing with my GI Joe and my Allis Chalmers tractor? Stay tuned to find out more. #spreadpride



Bisexual & Bystander

Thank you #HRC

Lisa Koenecke

In this fifth edition of LGBT FAQ, we are on the letter “B.” Here’s another flag to represent those who identify at Bisexual (You guessed it — the B in LGBT!) Here is a link to the 6 facts about the Bisexual Flag (I didn’t know all of these either. Fascinating!). Sometimes in my travels and presentations, the comment I hear or question I get asked is, “why can’t ‘they‘ choose a side?” I do not have an answer to that question other than to say, “Why are you attracted to whomever you’re attracted to?” It’s not a choice.

As a middle school counselor, this was the number one term used (usually by females) to describe thier identity if they had a very close female friend but didn’t want to be called a lesbian. Perhaps in a young adolescent mind it left the door open to other…

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Bisexual & Bystander


Bisexual & Bystander

In this fifth edition of LGBT FAQ, we are on the letter “B.” Here’s another flag to represent those who identify at Bisexual (You guessed it — the B in LGBT!) Here is a link to the 6 facts about the Bisexual Flag (I didn’t know all of these either. Fascinating!). Sometimes in my travels and presentations, the comment I hear or question I get asked is, “why can’t ‘they‘ choose a side?” I do not have an answer to that question other than to say, “Why are you attracted to whomever you’re attracted to?” It’s not a choice.

As a middle school counselor, this was the number one term used (usually by females) to describe thier identity if they had a very close female friend but didn’t want to be called a lesbian. Perhaps in a young adolescent mind it left the door open to other opportunities? All I can tell you is that I would support the student through their journey and felt honored to be a safe person in whom they trusted.
So, what is the definition of Bisexual? Thanks for asking. Here’s the answer according to noun

a person who is sexually attracted not exclusively to people of one particular gender.
For more information, please check out the Bisexual Resource Center. Here you’ll find resources for youth and adults, a history of the organization and contact information.
My tip for those allies out there, check out this website for more information.

Bystander is the level before becoming an ally. A bystander watches someone being bullied or attacked or hurt and yet does nothing. A bystander is the one who might not laugh at anti- LGBT+ jokes, but who remains silent. By not stopping the joke or remark, you are not an ally, merely a bystander standing on the sidelines. It’s a first step in becoming brave enough to fight against bullying, however it’s just a single step. In some spaces, it may feel like you would be the next in line for being attacked by standing up. And yet without your voice, the unitented consequence is that those who are doing the bullying feel like they have carte blanche to continue their attacks. Because, after all, everyone thinks this is funny! By merely saying, “That’s not funny,” you shift the conversation and put others on alert that it’s not o.k. to attack another person. Eleanor Roosevelt is quoted as saying, “Do one thing every day that scares you.” I challenge you to make your one thing speaking up.

One phrase that has benefited from bystanders becoming allies is the phrase, “That’s so gay.” It wasn’t long ago that you’d hear that phrase tossed around constantly. Thanks to a ton of hard work led by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) & the National Education Association (NEA) teaching allies what to say when they hear “That’s So Gay”, coupled with the even harder work done by schools across the country, it’s rare to hear that particular phrase. It’s a true testament to the power of shifting from bystander to ally. We will explore more of the HRC’s Welcoming Schools Campaign when we reach the letter “W.” Until then, I encourage you to be brave! Be an ally rather than just a bystander, please and thank you!


Ally or ally?

Welcome to the fourth submission of my LGBT FAQ. The first three submissions were focused on Pride month. My goal with this blog is to give you a quick, A to Z reference to #spreadpridetosavelives. Yep! Twenty-six entries each focused on a different letter of the alphabet. Nowwwww, let’s jump into the A-Z resources starting with the letter “A!”

I was a middle school counselor for many years and taught classroom lessons (LOVED it!). One lesson that made me stop in my tracks had to do with introducing the term “Ally” to a group of 7th graders. As I was getting my groove on to engage these adolescents, a small hand shot up to ask a question. I called on the student and loved her comment as I wrote the term ally on the board (yep, old school)…

Student named Ally: “Ms. Koenecke, that’s my name”

Me: “Why yes it is”

Student named Ally: ” So does that make me an automatic ally?

Me: “What do you think?”

Student named Ally: “Absolutely, and now wherever I go, people will know that I’m an ally just by looking at my name Ally.”

Me: “Ally, thanks for being an excellent ally, and students, that is also called a homonym.”

After this lesson, I reflected upon this homonym and how in later lessons we would discuss that homo means same in Greek. So, if we are all the same in theory, why is there so much hate?

So, what is an ally? Great question! If you’re reading this, YOU are an ally! Congrats and THANK YOU! An ally is a friend, a pal. In any marginalized community, an ally is a supporter that will stand up to discriminatory practices, using their position of strength as a member of the community not being marginalized. An ally acts when they hear or see anything offensive against a marginalized community. When they hear a homophobic, transphobic, or any slanderous joke, an ally stops the joke and stands up for any inequities.

In my recent podcast with Holly Duckworth of Everyday Mindfulness, Holly asked my advice on being an ally. My advice to her — and to you, dear reader — is to display a rainbow in your space. This could be a rainbow ribbon, a rainbow sticker, or even a rainbow flag to denote you are an ally. As in my first submission, the rainbow is a symbol of unity for our LGBTQIA community. Thank you for saving a life!

~Lisa “Lady Rainbow” Koenecke