Beck says center will provide diversity training for about 50 new TABC employees
JOHN WRIGHT | Online Editor
AUSTIN — A spokeswoman for the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission confirmed this week that the agency plans to continue LGBT diversity training for its employees, which she called “one of the positive things that came out of the Rainbow Lounge.”
TABC spokeswoman Carolyn Beck said Thursday, March 17 that the agency has signed a new contract for LGBT diversity training with Resource Center Dallas.
A few months after the raid of the Fort Worth gay bar in 2009, TABC paid Resource Center $14,212 to train all of the agency’s roughly 700 employees — in a series of 24 two-hour sessions in 11 locations across the state.
This time, Resource Center will train the roughly 50 TABC employees who’ve been hired since the initial round of training was completed last year. The second round of training, at a cost of $2,700, will take place during sessions in Dallas, Houston and Austin between March and July.
“We thought it was important at the time for our employees to receive diversity training like this, and it’s still important for the same reasons that it was before,” Beck said. “It really only makes sense if you continue the training. … The training is one of the positive things that came out of the Rainbow Lounge.”
TABC, whose agents raided the bar along with officers from the Fort Worth Police Department in June 2009, later fired three employees for policy violations related to the incident.
TABC Commissioner Alan Steen has publicly apologized for the raid on at least two occasions.
TABC reportedly is the first state agency in Texas to conduct comprehensive LGBT diversity training for all of its employees.
Beck, who also serves as TABC’s liaison to the LGBT community, said she doesn’t believe diversity training would have prevented the Rainbow Lounge raid.
However, she said the training has been beneficial to the agency.
“The one thing about it, across the board, it creates a lot of discussion, which I think is in itself a positive thing,” Beck said. “The training pushes some people’s boundaries, which I believe is the intent.”
Rafael McDonnell, strategic communications and programs manager for Resource Center Dallas, said the new training contract is the culmination of efforts that began last spring, when TABC solicited input on its strategic plan.
“I think this shows that TABC is committed to treating the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community with respect and dignity by having all of its employees learn about who we are,” said McDonnell, who helps conduct the LGBT diversity training.
“We did surveys and proved that there was a demonstrated increase in knowledge about the LGBT community among the employees who took part in the training,” McDonnell added. “It shows that what we did is making a difference throughout the state, and that’s extremely gratifying.”
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition March 18, 2011.