06/26/2020

BY RUTH CHO, ASSOCIATE & D&I COMMITTEE MEMBER

We’re almost halfway through 2020, and it would be an understatement to say that this year has been an unprecedented time for all of us—as individuals, employees, family members, friends, and citizens.

As we continue to navigate our way through June, there’s no better way to acknowledge the resilience, creativity, and beauty that connects us all than by celebrating Pride Month. Let us not forget that Pride is more than a parade. Let us not forget that June 2020 marks the 51st anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, a series of protests that paved the way for liberation and equality for the LGBTQIA+ community. Let us not forget the numerous allies and brave leaders in our history, such as Harvey Milk, Marsha P. Johnson, and Sylvia Rivera, who, by sacrificing their lives, showcased just how important it is to be higher reaching, to live with integrity, to act with passion, to show respect, and to share success with the people around you.

While we can celebrate the strides that have been made for the LGBTQIA+ community, including the recent monumental ruling by the Supreme Court that federal law prohibits discrimination against gay and transgender people in the workplace, there is still much work to be done. A multitude of social, economic, and legal issues still plague this community today. Members of the LGBTQIA+ community still fear activities that non-LGBTQIA+ individuals may take for granted, such as being able to access health and social services without discrimination, applying to become a foster parent, and using public restrooms without threat or punishment.

As we continue to navigate our way through June, there’s no better way to acknowledge the resilience, creativity, and beauty that connects us all than by celebrating Pride Month.

One of the most conscientious and proactive ways we can live out the values we care about, whether it be honesty, compassion, respect, or justice, is by learning what it means to be a supportive ally. How can we use our words and speak about and to the LGBTQIA+ community in an inclusive, respectful manner that adheres to our values? Whether we are discussing equality for the community, marriage, non-discrimination laws, open military service, or even parenting and adoption, the importance of language is that it forms our truth and reality as well as others’ around us. So, we believe that one of the most important ways we can all be better allies is by tackling discomfort, embracing vulnerability and taking steps forward to speak about the LGBTQIA+ community and the issues that matter in a more inclusive way.

Here are a few examples of how to do that:

Instead of saying… Say…
“A gay” or “A transgender” “A gay or transgender person” (Always use person-centered language as a general rule)
“Both genders” or “Opposite sexes” “All genders”
“Ladies and gentlemen” “Everyone” or “Folks”
“Sexual preference/lifestyle” or “Same-sex attraction” “Orientation/Sexual orientation”
“Sex change” “Sex change operation” or “Pre/Post-operation” “Transition” or “Transitioning”
“Gay adoption” “Adoption by gay parents” or “Two moms/Two dads”
“Gays in the military” “Open military service” or “Gay service members/troops/personnel”
“Gay rights” or “Civil rights” “Equality” or “Fairness”
“Hatred”, “Bigotry” or “Prejudice” “Intolerance”, “Rejection” or “Hurtfulness” (Avoid highly charged, alienating and argumentative terms)

Learning how to be an effective ally is a journey. Being more inclusive in the way we speak about the LGBTQIA+ community and the issues that we confront as a society are the simplest, most effective ways to make a difference and celebrate the community in our everyday lives.

Don’t let fear hinder you from asking questions and getting educated on LGBTQIA+ topics; each one of us is individually responsible for our own learning and un-learning. It is OK to make mistakes if we commit to owning up to and learning from them. As an ally, listening is your biggest asset.

It is ok to make mistakes if we commit to owning up to and learning from them. As an ally, listening is your biggest asset.

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