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Amherst Chamber to host presentation on transgender workers

Using an $8,000 grant from the Women’s Fund of Western Massachusetts, the coalition is beginning a program known as the Diversity Heroes Project that aims to assist area transgendered women in getting employment, educating employers about the experiences of the transgender population and changing society’s perception of those who are transgendered.

To help promote this program, the Amherst Area Chamber of Commerce will use its next brown bag luncheon for a presentation on the topic of transgendered people in the workplace. The luncheon takes place at the Jones Library Tuesday at noon.

Suzanne Seymour, executive director of the LGBT Coalition, said the event will give business owners and others in the Amherst business community a chance to hear about the training that will be included in the Diversity Heroes Project.

“This is about finding opportunities for trans women to learn skills, to interview and to bring together employers and employees,” she said.

Seymour said many transgendered women are facing problems such as homelessness and drug use because of discrimination.

The hope is to counter this with awareness trainings for businesses, job skills workshops for transgendered women and a job fair.

The brown bag lunch will begin with an overview of the new state law prohibiting discrimination against transgendered people in employment and then will explain how businesses can be involved in the Diversity Heroes Project.

“For so many people in our community, they want to do the right thing,” Seymour said.

Tony Maroulis, executive director of the Chamber, said he has talked with Beemyn about opportunities to engage the business community and said the luncheon will be a worthwhile starting point for those who can participate.

“We’re excited to do it,” Maroulis said. “It’s a good opportunity,”

The event is sponsored by the Loose Goose Cafe and is free and open to the public.

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