How to be an Ally for Sexual and Gender Minorities - Healthcare Guild

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An LGBTQIA Ally Recognizes that Sexual and Gender Minorities are as Equally Valid as Heterosexual Identities

An ALLY is an individual who works to end oppression through support and advocacy of an oppressed population, in this context, LGBTQ individuals. More specifically for the LGBT community, an ally is someone who honors sexual and gender diversity and supports individuals at varying stages of development with sexual and gender identity.  Allies are a key component to making the campus climate a safer place for the LGBT campus community.

GLAAD - 10 Ways to be an LGBTQIA Ally

1. Be a listener.

2. Be open-minded.

3. Be willing to talk.

4. Be inclusive and invite LGBT friends to hang out with your friends and family.

5. Don't assume that all your friends and co-workers are straight. Someone close to you could be looking for support in their coming-out process. Not making assumptions will give them the space they need.

6. Homophobic comments and jokes are harmful. Let your friends, family and co-workers know that you find them offensive.

7. Confront your own prejudices and homophobia, even if it is uncomfortable to do so.

8. Defend your LGBT friends against discrimination.

9. Believe that all people, regardless of gender identity and sexual orientation, should be treated with dignity and respect.

10. If you see LGBT people being misrepresented in the media, contact

GLAAD - Ally Resource Page

Betty DeGeneres — Ellen's mom — made this comparison in her book Just a Mom: "Let me suggest that we all know someone who is left-handed. Lefties make up roughly the same percentage [of the population] as gay people. And yet millions of Americans say they don't know someone who is gay. Unless those people who claim ignorance are living in a place called Fantasyland, they are most likely mistaken."

LGBT people are our mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles and cousins. This is a fact and it isn't going away. You have the opportunity to be an ally and a friend at home, school, church and work. A straight ally can merely be someone who is supportive and accepts the LGBT person, or a straight ally can be someone who personally advocates for equal rights and fair treatment.

Allies are some of the most effective and powerful voices of the LGBT movement. Not only do allies help people in the coming-out process, they also help others understand the importance of equality, fairness, acceptance and mutual respect.

PFLAG Guide to Being a Straight Ally - This is a guide for straight allies, by straight allies. It aims to invite, educate, and engage straight allies in the effort to create a world with equality for all...

Queer by Choice

A Radical gathering place for people who have chosen to be queer (or go against the convention of “normalcy”).

Why Be An Ally?

  1. Identify as a supportive person for an often invisible community

  1. Opportunity to learn, teach, and impact campus climate

  1. Help individuals gain self-esteem and pride in their identity

  1. Make a difference

Four Basic Levels of Becoming an Ally

  1. Awareness: Explore how you are different from and similar to LGBT people. Gain this awareness through talking with LGBT people, by attending workshops, and through self-examination.

  2. Knowledge/Education: Begin to understand policies, laws and practices and how they affect LGBT people. Educate yourself on the many communities and cultures of LGBT people.

  3. Skills: This is an area that is difficult for many people. You must learn to take your awareness and knowledge and communicate it to others. You can acquire these skills by attending workshops, role-playing with friends or peers, and developing support connections.

  4. Action: This is the most important and frightening step. Despite the fear, action is the only way to cause change in society as a whole.

Four Other Points to Keep in Mind

  1. Have a good understanding of sexual orientation and be comfortable with your own.

  2. Be aware of the coming-out process and realize that it is not a one-time event. The coming-out process is unique to LGBT people and brings challenges that are not often understood.

  3. Understand that LGBT people receive the same message about homosexuality and bisexuality as everyone else. Thus LGBT people suffer from internalized homophobia, biphobia, transphobia and heterosexism. It is important to recognize the risks of coming out and to challenge the internal oppression.

  4. Remember that LGBT people are a diverse group. Each community within the larger LGBT community has unique needs and goals.

An Ideal Ally is Someone Who...

  1. Uses gender neutral terms, such as partner or significant other, instead of gender specific terms like boyfriend or girlfriend

  2. Doesn’t preface a statement on LGBT issues with “I’m straight, but…”

  3. Doesn’t expect an LGBT person to speak for the entire LGBT community

  4. Doesn’t assume

  5. Treats partners of LGBT friends the same as they would a straight friend’s partner

  6. Doesn’t think of people as “my gay student” or “my lesbian friend”

  7. Objects to homophobic jokes in all situations

  8. Doesn’t tolerate homophobic comments

  9. Understands the basics of LGBT issues but is not afraid to ask questions

  10. Avoids stereotypes and makes clear that stereotypes don’t represent the entire LGBT community

* From LGBT Resource Center: Irvine, California.

A website for conversation about families and what it feels like to have a parent come out.
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Being an Ally for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender People

Here are some guidelines for people wanting to be allies for LGBT people around them. In today’s world, LGBT issues are being discussed more than ever before…in the media, in community programs, in schools, churches, offices, in the streets, and in people’s homes. These discussions are often emotionally charged as this can be a threatening topic for many people, and clear information is often difficult to find.  Being an ally is important, but it is challenging as well as exciting. This list is not exhaustive, but provides some starting points. Add your own ideas and suggestions!

1) Don’t assume heterosexuality. We tend to assume that everyone we meet is heterosexual even though we know this is not true. Often people hide that they are LGBT until they know it is safe to “come out” in a given situation. Use neutral language when first working with students/clients/customers until you know for certain what the person prefers (for example, the gender of their significant other)

2) Educate yourself about lesbian, gay, bi, and transgender issues. There are many resources, reading lists, and organizations available for information. Don’t be afraid to ask questions.

3) Explore ways to creatively integrate LGBT issues in your work. Doing so can be a valuable process for everyone, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Integrating LGBT people and issues instead of separating them out as a “special topic” is an important strategy for conveying and creating respect and acceptance.

4) Challenge stereotypes that others may have about LGBT people, as well as other people in our society. Challenge derogatory remarks or jokes made at the expense of any group, and avoid making them yourself. These remarks reinforce stereotypes and make it seem that prejudice is acceptable.

5) Examine the effect that sexual orientation and gender identity have on people’s lives and development. Explore how race, class, ability, gender, etc intersect with sexual orientation and how multiple identities shape our lives. Explore your own reactions and feelings about LGBT people and issues…including their causes and if there are any you want to change.

6) Avoid using heterosexist language, such as implying that everyone of one gender dates or marries members of the other gender. Respect how people choose to name themselves. If you don’t know how to identify a particular person or group, it is okay to ask as long as you do it respectfully.

7) Don’t expect members of any group that is the target of bias (e.g., LGBT people, Jews, people of color, women, people with disabilities) to be act as the “experts” to educate others about their group. Avoid tokenizing or patronizing people different from yourself.

8) Encourage and allow disagreement on issues of gender identity, sexual orientation, and civil rights. These issues are highly charged and contentious for many people. If there isn’t some disagreement, it probably means that people are hiding their real views or not participating. Keep discussion and disagreements civil and focussed on principles and issues rather than personalities.

9) Remember that you are human. Allow yourself to not know everything, to make mistakes, and to occasionally be insensitive. Give yourself time to learn, ask questions, and explore your own ideas and feelings…while still setting high expectations for yourself. Extend the same to others. Don’t present yourself as an “expert” unless you truly are one.

10) Ask for support if you are experiencing harassment or other problems related to your raising LGBT issues. You may be labeled as gay, lesbian, bi, transgender whether or not you are. Don’t isolate yourself! Make sure you are safe, identify your supporters, and use the opportunity to deepen your understanding of the power of homophobia and heterosexism.

11) Prepare yourself for a journey of change and growth that will come by exploring sexual orientation, gender identity, heterosexism, and other issues of difference. It can be exciting, painful, and enlightening, and will help you know yourself better. And you’ll be improving society in the process!