Meet some LGBT+ members of the service dog community!
She/Her/Hers Pan-Romantic and Demisexual
Morgan is currently raising her first dog, Betty Jo, for Southeastern Guide Dogs. She served as the secretary and the president of STEP at Georgia Southern University from 2020-2022.
When asked about being LGBT+ in the service dog community Morgan said the following. "As far as I’ve seen, in the -raising- community, it’s not diverse at all. The only other Black raisers I’ve seen all stopped raising due to racism. I have seen less than 5 POC raisers, and from -all of the raisers that I’ve seen, none were outwardly LGBT. I have seen more LGBT -service dog users- and they’re all owner trainers, but that’s about as much diversity as I’ve seen in the last 3 years related to anyone in the service dog community. I tend to try to follow more service dog users that are LGBT. Even though they aren’t raisers, it makes me feel a little bit more comfortable knowing someone in the service dog world that’s in the same community as I am. I always know their pages will be a safe space in that aspect. I wish there was more diversity across the board with service dog recipients and SD raisers instead of it being one mainstream demographic. A SD organization spotlighting its LGBT and Black + POC members, raisers, volunteers, etc. might help with recruiting more demographics of people. As a Black, queer woman, I rarely see other people like me in the service dog world. I wish SD organizations focused more on promoting diversity. It would really go a long way with making newcomers feel a bit more comfortable and a bit more accepted in a community that is mostly one demographic. Even for people who aren’t newcomers like me, it would go a long way."
Clare is the founder and president of STEP@UNCW, a college-raising organization whose mission is to raise and train dogs for individuals with disabilities.
When asked about being LGBT+ in the service dog community Clare said the following. "I’m incredibly proud to be a part of the LGBT+ community as well as the service dog community. I think there is so much education needed in both, and I’m proud to be an advocate!"
Aliya is owner-training her first service dog, a black lab named Castiel!
When asked about being LGBT+ in the service dog community Aliya said the following. "Since joining the service dog community on Instagram, I’ve found that many handlers identify as queer and/or are extremely accepting and supportive of people in the LGBTQ+ community. There are so many handlers that show support for BIPOC as well. I’m writing this on Juneteenth, and it’s wonderful to see how many people have posted about this holiday and have rallied around POC today. I feel like most people in the community just try their best to be kind and supportive, and I really appreciate that. Seeing all the support in two areas that make up such a big part of who I am makes me really happy. As a lesbian POC, that support is not always there in real life. At times, it feels like people just want to ignore parts of who I am. They like pretending it doesn’t exist. Whether that part they’re pretending doesn’t exist be my disability, sexuality, or skin color, it all hurts the same. I’d love for there to be a day where minorities have the same access to health care and service animals as the majorities and where people of the LGBTQ+ community can celebrate our sexualities all year long with no hate from others. We’ve got a long way to go before this world is truly equal for all, but I think we’re taking steps in the right direction. Anyways.. Always remember, to be unapologetically you! and Happy Pride Month!
Maddie raises for the Guide Dog Foundation and America's Vet Dogs at the University of Georgia. She is currently raising her first dog, a black lab named Sam who she says "has learned so much in just under three weeks!"
When asked about being LGBT+ in the service dog community Maddie said the following. "I am new to the service dog and puppy raiser community but I can say that it’s such a supportive community! So many other raisers reach out and ask me how it’s going with my first pup and I’m so thankful for their support and guidance."