It is important for companies to be becoming more inclusive each day. And we have seen that many of them have made the required changes in their own ways. Seminars educating the employees, LGBTQ+ specific job fairs, and partaking of companies in pride parades have gradually increased. But awareness does not only spread in the top-down format but also spreads through the bottom-up structure.
Grunt level work never fails to create an impact. Information travels faster when people talk to one another. Mass distribution of information requires a certain set-up, time, and stronger resources. But when information is made common sense, people get involved and learn faster.
That is why we have a quick list of Do(s) and Don’t(s) that will help you navigate through your LGBTQ+ experiences and interactions and make you a less ignorant person. Be the change.
Don’t Talk about Their Sexuality Without Their Permission
Not everyone is open to discussing their sexuality. If an individual has told you, then there is a certain amount of trust and confidence involved. You are not at liberty to talk or discuss somebody else’s sexuality. The individual’s presence or non-presence does not change this. Even if it is someone very close to you, remember to ask them for their permission and their limitations.
Use The Right Pronouns
This one is pretty basic. Ask them what pronouns they prefer and when and where you can use it. Individuals can be closeted in a few places, and not in others. Maybe they have come out only to a certain set of people. Mails, messages, calling home or addressing them in front of someone else, you have to make sure you don’t land them in trouble. It is not as difficult or as complex as it sounds. All it is is a word. A word that will make your co-workers feel more accepted. Make the effort.
Don’t Be Invasive
It is sometimes noticeable if someone is not straight. But you have to remember it is none of your business. Don’t force people to come out to you, if they feel comfortable enough, they will come out to you. Learn to respect the boundaries. The performative aspect of any member of the LGBTQ+ is sometimes different from how the heterosexuals perform. And the community is aware of it. The members are rather hyper-vigilant about it. So don’t add to the pressure by being invasive or pointing out their differences.
Acknowledge and Refer to Their Partner Appropriately
If you don’t know how to refer to their partner, ask. Nobody is going to be offended by the genuine want to be a better ally. Learn their names if the person is willing to tell you. Do not, please do not address them as a friend. You will receive the coldest shoulder or the biggest eye roll you have ever experienced.
Don’t Be Dismissive
People coming out to you is a big deal to them. They tend to get emotional and value coming out as a moment of trust. Don’t be dismissive of it. Be supportive of them and be happy for them. It is not easy to come out at workspaces. On the contrary, do not hype the situation either. Keep it warm and comforting. Most people tend to breakdown while telling their colleagues about their orientation. Even if you don’t understand it, don’t ruin their moment. Wait until you meet them personally and then ask them. Make sure your questions are not offensive and be genuine about wanting to learn and understand.
Nobody wants to use the wrong bathroom at work. Period. So when you see someone walk into the washroom that you don’t think is “right”, don’t freak out or create a scene. Ungendered bathrooms are still a rarity. This could cause issues and create ruckus at work. So speak to them in private and make them feel comfortable about the whole deal. If the person chooses different washrooms each time, you can call the bluff.
Questions About Body Parts
Man is curious in nature. We are all prone to asking questions and wanting to understand what we don’t. But asking people about their body parts is straight-up inappropriate at work. This is a general rule of thumb. So why would you presume it would be okay to ask people about their body parts, or how they engage in sexual activities? Respect boundaries and be professional.
Saying things like, “I never thought you’d turn out to be gay/transgender/queer” or asking gay people if they find you hot/cute are a big no-no. No, you cannot ask who the man/woman of the relationship is. Don’t be stereotypical. Stating a stereotype and asking them if it is true or not is also not okay. Don’t send LGBTQ+ related memes unless you receive a go signal from the colleague. In simple terms, just don’t be ignorant. It is not that hard. Read up. Learn about the community.