As many of you may have seen––we are actively promoting our LGBTQIA+ initiative at the J.

Some of you have wondered why, and we figured what better way to share the story than interviewing the two women behind the initiative––Courtney Jacobson and Shana Jacobs!

Whose idea was it to create the LGBTQIA+ initiative? Is it a new thing?

Shana Jacobs: The JCC has had a grant to cover LGBTQIA+ programming for the last two years. During that time, it was managed by an outside consultant who built the program out of nothing and managed it entirely independently. When that was no longer available at the end of the summer, the JCC decided to bring it in-house entirely, and the natural fit was for it to live under the Engagement Department. I decided it was an initiative that needed to represent many voices and thought it would best be run as a committee. I started by inviting staff, and then after we met for our first meeting, asked staff members to invite people from their personal network to join the committee as well. Once Courtney joined as a staff representative on the committee, she asked if she could co-chair with me, and I obviously said yes!

Why did each of you personally want to be a part of this initiative?

Courtney Jacobson: This is my community, as is the Jewish community, so it’s important to be on a lot of different levels to support these efforts.

Shana Jacobs: It’s important to me to be part of this initiative because I have two young boys, and can’t imagine raising them in a world where they aren’t accepted for who they are and who they love. I also have a lot of family members in the Queer community and want to support anything that helps them live happy and meaningful lives.

What does LGBTQIA+ stand for (for those who may not know/understand) and why is it important to create a group for this community?

CJ: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersection, Allies (meaning not identifying as any of the LGBTQ, but strongly wanting to support those who identify). The + is for non-binary, gender queer, etc. Basically the + stands for all of the identities folks have and want to identify as. Typically, this is an underserved community.