Diversity & Inclusion
Fireside Chat: Supporting the LGBTQIA+ Community
Angela SalazarPosted on

Pride doesn’t end when July begins – being a good ally to the LGBTQIA+ community is a year-round commitment that we take seriously at #GirlsClub.

If you haven’t already, I highly recommend checking out our Fireside Chat  from last year where we explored the best ways to be an LGBTQIA+ ally. 

As many of you know, our Fireside Chats were developed to answer difficult but essential questions and open conversations up to better ourselves in diversity, inclusion, and equality. 

The landscape surrounding this year’s Pride month feels a little different and probably a lot scarier – which means now more than ever it’s important to educate ourselves and learn how we can best support the LGBTQIA+ community moving forward. 

Prior to this year’s Fireside Chat, our Generation 5 participants were able to submit anonymous questions so that our incredible panel could address them candidly and authentically. Shoutout and huge thanks to the panel that joined me for this session, April Van Overbake, Alyssa Castellano and Bill Torres. And special thanks to our Diversity Sponsors: Zillow and  Criteria Corp.

Here are some of the questions and key takeaways. 

First off – the basics. What does LGBTQIA+ stand for? Who is contained within that community? 

These are acronyms for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer/Questioning, Intersex, Asexual, and more. This encompasses all identities, as very rarely do people fall into one clear-cut identity. Often it’s intersectional – people may be one or they may identify with multiple. 

With all of the anti-gay legislation that is being proposed, and in some cases passing, how can leaders support LGBTQIA+ employees? (And not just during Pride month). 

It’s important to make sure you are treating LGBTQIA+ employees like any other community that is facing difficulty. Make sure to offer resources and be fair to any marginalized or impacted group – they all deserve the same level of attention and resources.  

On a more personal level, it can depend on your relationship with an individual employee and how comfortable you are navigating difficult situations. If you have any hesitation or awkwardness, it’s okay to wait for the employee to come to you. 

What are ways for corporations to show true support rather than just rainbow logos or perceived “tokenism”? 

Keep equality at the top of mind at all times. Think about your employee base, your processes for hiring, and beyond just the month of June. Ask yourself the following: 

  • Is your employee base diverse with multiple identities and marginalized groups including members of the LGBTQIA+ community represented? 
  • Are you targeting these communities or areas that have low visibility through recruiting initiatives?
  • Are you providing benefits that are inclusive and supportive for the LGBTQIA+ community such as gender-affirming care coverage, parental leave for adopting or non-birthing parents? 

No one wants to feel as if their place of business is “coming out of the closet” only during the month of June. Authenticity and support year-round matters. 

What is something allies do or try to do that is actually harmful or frustrating to the community?

Often, the burden of “educating” falls on members of the community. Expecting those individuals to always be open to educating or putting them on the spot can be a frustrating experience. It can make them feel responsible for the entire community or to act as a representative – which is not a role they should be expected to take on. 

If you’re looking to learn more about allyship, seek out your own information and learn and engage with the materials. It’s okay to ask friends who are members of the community, but make sure to do so in a respectful way – don’t come across as accusatory or demanding of/entitled to their time and insight. Asking questions about something we want to gain a better understanding of is natural. Asking questions to satisfy your own curiosity – not so much. It is all about intent – think first before asking.

With a rise in anti-LGBTQIA+ sentiment, how can allies work to diffuse these situations when they come across it? 

It can be shocking and difficult to witness this sentiment in person. Whether you are acting as an ally or you are a member of the community, first and foremost: safety is the number one priority. 

In a perfect world, you could engage with these situations in a place where you feel safe and empowered to do so. There is strength in numbers – sometimes there is a need for multiple people to support each other so the situation doesn’t escalate and most especially so it isn’t one member of the community stuck in the middle of it all.  

Don’t be afraid to speak out when something impacts YOUR livelihood and has no bearing on anyone outside of it. 

Help each other and don’t be afraid to stand up to differing opinions. 

What are the best ways for allies to encourage allyship among others? 

Good allies often are the product of good allies. Teach your children to be accepting, and to understand not all families look alike – and that is OK. Teach them it is OK to be who you are and to live authentically. Continue educating yourselves, your family members, and children. 

And above all: be kind. Live by the golden rule and treat others as you want to be treated. Honor the human beings in front of you as you want to be honored.