EDI in the workplace LGBT+ history month
EDI in the workplace LGBT+ history month
Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) are significant positive factors in a healthy workplace culture, they are embedded within many companies’ values. We all want to feel a sense of belonging amongst our co-workers and to feel safe at work whilst being our authentic selves. The LGBT+ community has worked tirelessly throughout the last century to gain equality and raise awareness of the continuous discrimination that the community faces.
Many employers provide mandatory EDI training for all members of staff to undertake. Educating all employees certainly aims to promote a healthy culture in the workplace but is this enough?
The LGBT+ community is in need of allyship, there is a need within all workplace cultures for acceptance and education. This enables employees to feel confident in raising a concern and spotting discriminatory behaviours. Employers have a responsibility to protect all members of staff as per the Equality Act 2010, this includes both their physical and mental well-being. Everybody should feel safe in their place of work.
The rainbow flag has become an iconic symbol for the LGBT+ community, Pride is the first thought that comes to mind when we see a rainbow flag. Employers take part in Pride month events every year and spend the majority of June promoting acceptance. However, consideration needs to be given to the remaining 11 months of the year. Throughout the last 2 years, I have noticed one small change in many companies that certainly feels like a genuine nod towards inclusivity, this is stating our pronouns within our email signature.
The Trans community face an alarming amount of discrimination daily, misgendering being one whether this is intentional or unintentional. By providing our pronouns within our email signatures we are addressing that gap. This is a simple gesture that goes a long way towards EDI in the workplace.
Being a true ally is all about challenging homophobia and transphobia as well as supporting your LGBT+ colleagues.
To be Scene By the Highland feminist
To be a lesbian is to be marked out as different. From as young as five years old, I knew that I liked girls. I liked their company, I liked kissing them, I felt happy and connected in their spaces. But I also grew up in a rural area, so although I felt a great affinity with, and desire for my own sex, I dare not have expressed it openly for fear of being bullied, or worse. Small, rural communities can be notoriously unaccommodating of anyone whose outlook on life is far removed from their own, and I felt this acutely. So, I did what many young women do, and I pretended to be someone I wasn’t so that I could fit in.
It wasn’t until I arrived at university in Edinburgh in my late twenties, that I kicked the door off the closet with as much bravado and force as I could muster, to embrace what today we’d probably call my tribe. My best friend and I had lived similar closeted lives at school and so we adopted the mantra gay is the only way and spent most nights of the week in the gay bars and clubs of the city’s pink triangle. It was fun for a while, and much safer than the straight bars my other uni pals went to, but eventually even we tired of the scene and so began, the serious business of living our lives as working adults.
I returned to the Scottish Highlands determined not to be defined by my sexual orientation, and instead focused on doing the things I enjoyed. By this point, I was out and proud and less afraid to be myself, and eventually, life brought the gifts of marriage and motherhood, and the label “lesbian” seemed less relevant than ever.
This LGBT History Month as I look back on the people and the places that shaped me, I wonder where I might have been had all the brave men and women before me not taken up the mantle for gay rights. I am grateful for their activism, their courage, and their tenacity to make all our lives a little more open, and freer.
I think about the theme of this year’s LBGT History Month, “Behind the Lens”: celebrating LGBT+ peoples’ contribution to cinema and film”, and how fortunate we are that the visual representations of our lives on screen are more diverse, and more accepted, than at any point in the past. Now, in my early forties, still living in a rural area, I care a little less about what anyone else thinks, and more about those who are closest to me, because coming out these days, is more about coming home. And Netflix.
LGBT+ History Month – Young People and Mental Health
February marks LGBT+ history month, and whilst this is a celebratory month that delves into the historical advancement of the LGBT+ community, a sizeable amount of the community’s history is the discrimination members have faced.
Research suggests children and young people who identify as LGBT+ have a higher risk of developing a mental health condition. This is not to say that identifying as LGBT+ causes mental health problems, rather the discrimination they face has a significant impact on their mental health.
Why is it important LGBT+ Children and Young People are validated?
University of Cambridge research for Stonewall in The School Report (2017) found that:
- Over half of LGBT young people (53 per cent) don’t feel there is an adult at school or college they can talk to about being LGBT.
- Three in five LGBT young people (60 per cent) don’t have an adult to talk to at home.
- Two in five LGBT young people (40 per cent) have never been taught anything about LGBT issues at school.
- Two-thirds of LGBT young people (66 per cent) say their school doesn’t offer help to access resources that can support them.
- One in three trans young people (33 per cent) are not able to be known by their preferred name at school, while three in five (58 per cent) are not allowed to use the toilets they feel comfortable in.
- Nearly half of LGBT young people (45 per cent) – including 64 per cent of trans young people – are bullied for being LGBT at school or college.
As a child or young person, they may be feeling overwhelmed, worried or confused, but this is normal and completely understandable. We would encourage children and young people to speak confidently to a trusted person who can support them on their journey. We should focus on the achievement this is for many young people, to finally have that conversation and to present as their authentic selves.
As a member of the LGBT+ community myself, I have noticed the relief felt when I can openly talk about my sexuality without the stigma and strange looks we expect. During my teen years, I felt seen and comfortable among my peers and not like the outcast society said I would be. I was privileged with my coming out story, however, I know many have trauma relating back to that time in their life. This is why LGBT+ History Month is so important in educating a wider audience on ways we can support and become more inclusive as society.
Written by Sophie Wrotniak.