Know Us Project (KUP)™
WHAT IS THE KNOW US PROJECT® (KUP)?
KUP training helps prepare lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people and their allies to have personal and effective conversations with friends and family members about the emotional impact of stigma and discrimination. The purpose of these KUP conversations is to share what it is like to live in a world of social stigma and discriminatory public policy that supports and reinforces inequality. The Know Us Project® is an educational program of the Michigan Project for Informed Public Policy and trainings are co-sponsored by numerous organizations.
HOW DOES KUP WORK?
KUP conversations are designed to influence public opinion one conversation at a time. KUP training teaches applied conversation skills in small group settings, led by a trained mental health professional.
Participants learn the basics of effective conversations and then have a chance to practice their newly learned skills in a supportive environment. KUP training is designed only for LGBT adults who are “out of the closet” and for their allies. Many LGBT people view a KUP conversation as one of the next steps after coming out. Learning how to talk about hurtful experiences can be difficult but also serves to show others the effects of stigma and discriminatory public policies that are often rooted in fear or prejudice. This is why KUP is usually facilitated by experienced mental health professionals who are able to prepare participants to deal with possible negative feelings that might surface from recalling and telling their stories.
When others see that LGBT people have the same hopes and dreams — earning a living, supporting a family, not being subjected to violence — then they are more likely to understand the desire for equality at home, at school, in the workplace, and in families who may be different but no less loving and nurturing.
WHY DOES KUP WORK?
Equality and non-discrimination are American values. Social science research, starting in the 1950’s and continuing today, often called “contact theory,” shows us that when groups of people have open and honest conversations with each other about the impact of prejudice and discrimination on an individual level, those listeners develop more positive attitudes towards that group. Through effective personal conversations we can move forward to an American society that values all of its citizens for who they are and the contributions they make.
WHAT KUP IS NOT
- KUP is not training on how to “come out” and identify as a lesbian, gay man, bisexual or transgender person.
- It is not a place for individuals still questioning their sexual orientation or gender identity, or gender expression.
- It is not a substitute for appropriate mental health care or training on how to prevent sexually-transmitted diseases, such as HIV/AIDS.