Pride Month Conversation: The Power of Support
In honor of Pride Month, we invited Time Out Youth to lead an LGBTQ+ 101 session for our associates. The overall objectives of the session were to identify issues LGBTQ people face, learn and articulate appropriate terminology regarding LGBTQ identities and increasing comfort and skill levels in supporting LGBTQ people.
Haeley Rimmer, Time Out Youth’s student advocacy coordinator, spent over two hours with us. Haeley is not only knowledgeable and helpful but also kind, non-judgmental and has a fun, friendly style that made the session, which touched on some serious and sensitive topics, easy to understand and enjoyable.
Haeley opened the session with some sobering statistics from the GLSEN 2019 National School Climate Survey about the vulnerability of LGBTQ youth, especially at school. What really got my attention were the work stats, including the fact that one in four LGBT employees report experiencing employment discrimination.
While the beginning of the session left the room silent in thought, the second half was full of hope as Haeley shared many practical, helpful support tips. This section opened with important gender terminology and an overview of non-binary identities as well as a review of sexual orientation terms. Haeley also helped everyone understand the significance of pronouns. As a cisgender ally, it encouraged me to add my pronouns to my email signature and in other prominent places as a signal of support.
Below are some of the ways everyone can help create safer spaces at work for LGBTQ people:
- Increase the visibility of allies with stickers, pins and other “safe space” indicators.
- Consider displays of LGBTQ supportive materials during advocacy days.
- Be mindful of subtle forms of aggression by confronting anti-LGBTQ jokes and bullying and avoiding assumptions about someone’s gender/romantic orientation. Rely on gender-neutral language.
- Include LGBTQ-related themes and images in marketing materials, office photos, educational materials, etc.
- Familiarize yourself with current terms regarding LGBTQ identities.
Haeley finished by reminding the group that being an ally is all about listening and getting and staying educated. I am now much better prepared to support LGBTQ associates, friends and family members.
Time Out Youth Center offers support, advocacy, and opportunities for personal development and social interaction to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning (LGBTQ) youth ages 11-20. The center is located at 3800 Monroe Road in Charlotte and the phone number is 704.344.8335. Reach out today if you or someone you know needs a safe place to find help and support.