Being an Ally

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Allies are important, because LGBTQ+ people can’t do it alone.

Use these resources to help you learn how to be a great ally.

An ally is a person who takes demonstrable action supporting members of a group with which they do not identify.

Start Here

Allies should:

1. Understand the words used within and about the LGBTQ+ community.

2. Learn who LGBTQ+ people are, and allow any myths to be busted.

As/Is: If You Could Be Straight, Would You?
As/Is: I’m Bisexual, But I’m Not…
As/Is: I’m Trans, But I’m Not…
As/Is: What It’s Like To Be Intersex

3. Know what to say (and what not to say) when someone comes out.

4. Be familiar with the human rights LGBTQ+ people do and do not have.

  • Explore the Human Rights Campaign state maps of laws and policies that affect the LGBTQ+ community, including conversion therapy, education, employment, housing, public accommodations, school anti-bullying, transgender healthcare, and gender marker updates on identification documents.
  • Familiarize yourself with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA’s) Guide to Restroom Access for Transgender Workers, which states “…all employees should be permitted to use the facilities that correspond with their gender identity…Under these best practices, employees are not asked to provide any medical or legal documentation of their gender identity in order to have access to gender-appropriate facilities. In addition, no employee should be required to use a segregated facility apart from other employees because of their gender identity or transgender status.”

5. Be aware of the questions you might want to ask LGBTQ+ people.

Before you ask an LGBTQ+ person a question regarding their personal gender identity or sexual orientation, first ask yourself the following:

  • Is this something I would ask a non-LGBTQ+ person?
  • Is this something I would want asked of me?
  • Why do I want to ask this question? Is it so I can better understand or advocate for the rights and recognition of LGBTQ+ people (in which case, ask respectfully)? Or is it for my own curiosity (in this case, ask Google)?
  • How do I think this question will make the LGBTQ+ person feel? Uncomfortable? Empowered? Respected?
  • Am I willing to recognize that I might make a mistake in the language I use? If I do make a mistake, am I ready to simply apologize, move on, and commit to doing better?

6. Use gender-inclusive language.

7. Recognize and respond to anti-LGBTQ+ slurs and jokes.

You can use the tactics below to let folks around you know that anti-LGBTQ+ slurs and jokes are not acceptable:

  • Let the person know that you have LGBTQ+ friends or family and that you find what they said personally offensive. For example: “You know, I have good friends who are gay and lesbian, so I find what you just said to be really offensive.”
  • Tell the person why what they said was inappropriate. For example, in response to someone saying “That’s so gay” to mean something is bad: “What you just said was really inappropriate because you are implying that there is something wrong with being gay or lesbian when there isn’t.”
  • Remind the person that there is nothing wrong with being LGBTQ+. For example: “If you don’t like something, you should use a word that actually means something bad.”
  • Tell the person to repeat what they said using more appropriate language. For example: “I need you to say that again without the hate language, please.”

8. Understand microaggressions and how intersectionality can affect LGBTQ+ people.

Watch this video to learn what microaggressions are:

Watch this video to get a better understanding of microaggressions and intersectionality. NOTE: The video below has two instances of strong language (a version without these two words is here).

Then, read this article to learn about specific examples of LGBTQ microaggressions and how to respond to them.

9. Take a Safe Zone training.

10. Put it all together, and watch this video.