UVU has resources in place for its students and faculty to learn how to become or how to better their alliance with the LGBTQ community. Below are some helpful tips and keywords to help the university community be better allies.
LGBT, the initialism used to give a more inclusive name to the nonheterosexual and noncisgendered community, is believed to have began in the mid 1980s. The adoption of this initialism came in response to wanting a more inclusive name besides “gay community” when being referenced to include those who experience gender and sexual identities outside of lesbian and gay.
The entire initialism, LGBTTQQIAAP, stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, transsexual, queer, questioning, intersex, asexual, ally and pansexual. The initials aren’t agreed upon in all circles within the LGBTQ community prompting the search for a generic term to replace the varying initials.
For those who identity as heterosexual and/or cisgender, it is important to know how to be an ally to your LGBTQ friends and family. About 4.5 percent, or 11 million Americans, self-identify as being a part of the LGBTQ community, so it is important to learn the different terminology, pronoun preference and identities to help support the LGBTQ folks within the community.
LGBTQ people are aware in their interactions if a person is biased towards them and their community. Jokes, music, books, shows or even personal philosophical views that spread hate and misinformation or invoke violence towards this community are some things to evaluate.
Try not to assume everyone in your association is straight. Advise and counsel those who make anti-LGBTQ jokes and turn off music or shows that are harmful. Though others may not participate or agree with the lifestyle of the LGBTQ community, it does not give them the right to disrespect nor invoke harm.
It’s ok to not understand everything that pertains to the LGBTQ community. However, it’s important that you as an ally conduct your own research instead of relying upon your LGBTQ friends and family to answer all your questions. Even with your research, be mindful that the community is diverse and continuously changing. What’s acceptable to one person isn’t acceptable to another.
Due to their upbringing and culture, many people have been exposed to anti-LGBTQ rhetoric. Acknowledge, confront and correct your personal biases regarding members of the community.
Oftentimes, due to a lack of knowledge or understanding, you might make mistakes that place you on the receiving end of swift correction or judgement from the LGBTQ community. Though your feelings may be hurt, it is important to understand the need of this community to be acknowledged and respected. Allies make mistakes, so correcting those mistakes and striving to be better in the future is more important than temporarily hurt feelings.
Be a friend
The most important thing you can do overall is to be a friend. Compassion, acceptance, understanding and empathy can help your LGBTQ friends and family feel loved, acknowledged and accepted. In a world where they are still fighting for basic human rights, a friend can help show that they do matter, they are loved and they are important.
UVU’s LGBT Student Services offers safe zone trainings that teach students, faculty and those in the surrounding area how to foster an inclusive environment for the LGBTQ community. The next training will be conducted Jan. 14
Contact LGBT Student Services at [email protected] for additional services and safe zone training times.