Last night, in the wake of controversy following insensitive Twitter banter between Utah Rep. Jacob Anderegg (R-Lehi) and and intern using the account of Utah Senate President Wayne Niederhauser (R-Sandy), a voluntary session was hastily called to provide sensitivity training regarding trans* people and issues at the Utah Senate.
The meeting, called by Senate Chief of Staff Ric Cantrell, was attended by approximately two dozen staff, interns and members of the legislature. It was organized by Equality Utah Executive Director Brandie Balken and featured trans* activists and educators Connie Anast and Dayne Law of Transgender Education Advocates and Bri Blanchard and Kai Martinez of the LGBT Resource Center at the University of Utah.
Following backlash over the banter, Anderegg apologized for his insensitivity, a sentiment he repeated to the assembled group Monday evening. In a meeting with this reporter, Neiderhauser also accepted responsibility for the tweet from his account, stating that he should have maintained a greater degree of supervision over the account and his intern.
Cantrell’s stated intent was to provide an atmosphere wherein the attendees could freely ask the “most bigoted, stupid questions” they might have without fear of reprisal or recrimination. After the meeting Balken labeled the session as “a good first step.” That sentiment seemed to be echoed by Cantrell and other meeting attendees aftwerward.
QSaltLake was the only media allowed in the session, on the condition that the meeting attendees and details remain confidential.