Many open-minded people often call themselves allies when it comes to LGBT causes for different reasons; it can be for activist purposes, for wanting to do better, for support of loved ones in the LGBT community, or sometimes, unfortunately, for wanting to look good in front of others. However, many of those who call themselves allies in the work environment don’t actually do what allies should do. Instead of just calling yourself an LGBT ally, here is a list of things you can do to help your LGBT colleagues feel better, safer, and more included in the office. No one is forcing you to do these things, but the mere opportunity to help this cause is a privilege by itself. Your voice will be heard among the voices of the minorities, and by using it you can definitely help make your office a more welcoming space for your coworkers.
What can I do to help my LGBT coworkers?
- Don’t assume your friends or coworkers are straight. Use inclusive language. Instead of saying ‘hello guys’ say ‘hello everyone’ or ‘hello teammates’.
- Make sure to get to know LGBT folks, and ask them about their pronouns. Create an inclusive environment by getting to know these people and their stories. Ask how you can support them.
- Stand up for and defend the LGBT community at your office. We continue to unconsciously support homophobia by not educating others. When you hear someone make offensive jokes, don’t let them pass. Speak up and explain why these jokes are hurtful and incorrect.
- Empower LGBT voices. Bring up adding correct language and LGBT friendly behaviour into your office’s handbook. Amplify your coworkers’ opinions if they are not being heard.
- Learn about your biases and educate yourself. Understand that you can make mistakes and learn from them. Read up on LGBT history through all the resources available online to understand the problems this community faces.
To be a good ally you don’t need to show up to every protest, understand every single thing an LGBT person faces, or yell that you’re an ally to everyone’s face, you just need to listen to their voices. The best thing you can do is educate yourself and understand your privilege. A journalist from Washington Post highlights that:
As an ally, it’s not your job to be a therapist or counsellor. But it is your job to listen to the LGBT people in your life, to ask them how they’re doing, to be aware that they may have gone through (and might still be going through) some things you don’t understand, and offer support when you can.
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