Learning about Stigma

Recently, members of our Speakers Bureau had the opportunity to attend stigma training provided by Aids Vancouver Island. The members reported gaining greater self-awareness of their own experiences of stigmatization as well as learning tools to respond to stigmatizing behaviour they see in themselves and others. They highly recommend the training and would like to share some of the highlights:

Debunking Stigma. The importance of providing, through the Speakers Bureau, an opportunity for the audience to be in an environment that encourages the exploration of different ideas and beliefs so stigma can be debunked.
NIMBY. The prevalence of stigma in common arguments of NIMBYISM (Not In My Back Yard) towards affordable, supportive or transitional housing and other supports for people who are experiencing homelessness or poverty. In contrast, YIMBYism (Yes In My Back Yard) encourages projects that support marginalized communities.
Cringe Test. The ‘cringe’ test was explored as a simple way to test whether or not a statement is perpetuating stigmatizing beliefs. This test is done by taking a statement (such as “people that are mentally ill are not a good fit for this type of neighbourhood”) and substituting the word that describes the person for a different word (such as “Chinese”, “gay”, or “black”) to find out if a statement is discriminatory.
Lateral Violence. Lateral violence happens when members of marginalized groups, knowingly or unknowingly, direct aggression or violence towards each other, themselves, and/or those they perceive to be less powerful than them. The group looked at how this is used as a way to assert social control when feeling powerless and it stems from experiencing ongoing oppression.
Combating Stigma. The group concluded it is helpful to remind ourselves stigmatizing behaviour is learned but by practicing awareness, empathy, and compassion we can combat it.