Restorative Justice (RJ), a practice rooted in empathy, understanding, and community restoration, has come a long way. But there’s still work to be done, especially when it comes to inclusivity for the LGBTQ+ community. In a recent presentation by Rami El Gharib, the founder of the Restorative Rainbow Alliance, this very topic was addressed with passion and profound insights.
A Lebanese Restorative Justice practitioner, Rami El Gharib’s work has spanned facilitating conferences with the Colorado Justice system to instituting Restorative Practices in schools across Connecticut and California. His endeavor with the Restorative Rainbow Alliance marks a significant stride towards embedding an LGBTQ+ lens within Restorative Justice.
The presentation began with an introduction to the Restorative Rainbow Alliance, shedding light on its vision, mission, and values. Gharib passionately highlighted the pressing need for this inclusive lens within Restorative Justice practices. While RJ fundamentally seeks to understand and mend, it’s imperative that it’s attuned to the unique challenges and experiences of the LGBTQ+ community.
A key focus of the presentation was the LGBTQ+ inclusive Facilitator Code of Conduct being developed by RRA. Gharib offered a sneak peek into the Code, emphasizing its potential to enhance general RJ Facilitator Codes of Conduct. The aim? To ensure that LGBTQ+ participants feel seen, understood, and supported throughout the RJ process.
Yet, the session wasn’t just about imparting knowledge; it was about collaboration. Rami engaged the audience in a rich dialogue, encouraging feedback on the proposed initiatives and exploring ways to bolster support for LGBTQ+ participants. The discussion also delved into the kind of education and backing RJ practitioners need to adeptly support LGBTQ+ individuals.
Supporting Gharib were two other esteemed professionals, Ames Stenson and Laura Beth Waltz. Stenson, with a varied background spanning from Criminal Justice to Social Work, brought a wealth of experience to the table. Their involvement with the Colorado Coalition for Restorative Justice Practices and the Restorative Rainbow Alliance added depth to the conversation. Outside their professional realm, Ames’ love for the outdoors and adventure was palpable.
Laura Beth Waltz, another founding board member of the Restorative Rainbow Alliance, brought a unique blend of media, gender theory, and theology insights. As an educator, her dedication to disrupting the school-to-prison pipeline and fostering restorative practices among students stood out. Waltz’s belief in restorative practices as a pathway to inclusion, anti-oppression, and activism resonated deeply.
Together, the trio offered a comprehensive perspective on the intersection of LGBTQ+ experiences and Restorative Justice. Their combined expertise and passion underscored the critical need for inclusivity and the proactive steps being taken to achieve it.
In summary, Rami El Gharib’s presentation was an enlightening exploration of the challenges and potential of integrating an LGBTQ+ perspective into Restorative Justice. Backed by dedicated professionals like Ames Stenson and Laura Beth Waltz, the Restorative Rainbow Alliance’s vision promises a more inclusive and empathetic future for RJ practices. As we move forward, such endeavors are not just commendable but essential, ensuring that Restorative Justice remains true to its core values of understanding, healing, and community restoration.