10 Tips for LGBTQIA+ Allyship
Written by: Emma Driban, JFS Content Developer
In June of 2020, JFS Delaware formed an official Equity Diversity & Inclusion Committee with a mission to prioritize social justice and dismantle systemic inequalities – internal and external to our agency – through advocacy, allyship, and action. This diverse group of staff members have provided thoughtful direction, feedback, and structure to our entire team to support one another, educate ourselves, and dismantle racist practices, policies, beliefs, language, and behavior; through ongoing dialogue, education, collaboration, and action, we carry out our goal to combat injustices in our offices and community.
To date, the committee has made consistent efforts to provide trainings, initiate discussions, and provide resources to promote understanding and allyship among our staff; below are some tips for LGBTQIA+ Allyship that have been shared and discussed during Pride Month.
Thank you to Becca McAdams, M.Ed., LPCMH, member of JFS Delaware’s EDI Committee, for her contributions to creating this piece.
What does it mean to be an Ally to the LGBTQIA+ community? It is important for Allies to have the desire to learn and understand, to help LGBTQIA+ people feel supported and included, as well as to address barriers to fairness and justice for everyone.
There are many ways that Allies can show support and advocate for the LGBTQIA+ community. In that support, it’s important to remember that every person is an individual and looks for Allyship in different ways.
Below are ten tips on how to be a LGBTQIA+ Ally:
- Respect everyone’s differences and recognize that there are varying levels of comfort about coming out or discussing identities. Some LGBTQIA+ people might still be getting comfortable with their identity or may be shy discussing personal details. Respect boundaries and follow the lead of the LGBTQIA+ individual when it comes to discussing their identity and experience.
- Show support and interest. It’s okay and sometimes encouraged to ask (non-intrusive) questions. Make sure you have built trust with this person and are in or have created a safe space before asking or answering questions. Remember that people have different levels of comfort in answering them; respect their decision not to share information and don’t press. Some questions could include:
- When did you know you were [insert appropriate term here]?
- What was it like growing up?
- How did you know it was the right time to come out?
- What was the coming out process like?
- How can I best support you?
- Reassure them that disclosing their sexual orientation or gender identity has not, and will not, change how you feel about them. Remind them that you still care about and respect them.
- Normalize offering and asking for pronouns in varied situations. You can act by putting your pronouns in your email signature, in social media bios, on name tags, or by introducing yourself with your name and what pronouns you use. Another good practice is to use more neutral language until you know what pronouns someone uses or how they might identify.
- Educate yourself on the history of the LGBTQIA+ community. Members of the community are not responsible for teaching you, but many could be eager to share their experiences and help you learn. The LGBTQIA+ community has a long history and knowing about the struggles that were faced can help you better understand current topics and issues.
- Unlearn historical prejudices. Identify, unpack, and challenge stereotypes and unconscious biases you have been taught over the years. Part of this will come in educating yourself about the history of the LGBTQIA+ community, but it is also important to confront your own prejudices—even if it is uncomfortable to do so—and commit yourself to self-growth and learning. Recognize when you make a mistake and be open to learning and improving.
- Speak out against prejudice, discrimination, and offensive language. Be an advocate for equality whenever you can. If you hear an anti-LGBTQIA+ comment or joke, speak up and explain why such comments are harmful and offensive.
- Advocate for the most marginalized members of the LGBTQIA+ community. LGBTQIA+ people of color are more likely to be subject to marginalization and oppression on the basis of race. Transgender women of color face blatant discrimination and violence, while Black and Latinx gay and bisexual men and transgender women are disproportionately impacted by the HIV epidemic. Be an active advocate for these marginalized voices in the community, while still providing space for LGBTQIA+ people of color to be heard.
- Embrace the leadership and contributions of the LGBTQIA+ community. LGBTQIA+ people have historically been ignored or subject to ridicule in pop culture and being an Ally means being open to their voices and respecting everyone’s understanding and expression of their identity. Elevate LGBTQIA+ voices by voting for them, buying their art and content, and spotlighting their voices.
- Most importantly, listen to your LGBTQIA+ friends, family, colleagues, and peers. They will let you know how you can be a good ally and what you can do to support them.
“Be open and kind, ask questions & remain curious, provide knowledge to others, foster safe communication.” —Jess from @SoYouWantToTalkAbout
For more information about how to be a good ally, check out the resources below:
- What Does LGBT Mean? Know the Basics. – Youth Engaged 4 Change
- How to Be a Better Ally – DoSomething.org
- Being an LGBTQ Ally – Human Rights Campaign
- Pronouns Matter – MyPronouns.org
- Pronouns: A Resource – GLSEN
Supporting Transgender and Gender NonConforming Educators and Students