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LGBTQ Ally Guide

LGBTQ Ally Guide

 

Four Levels in Ally Development

 

Qualities of Allies

 

Ten Ways to Be an Ally

 

Benefits of Being an Ally

 

Guidelines for Allies

 

 

 

Four Levels in Ally Development

 

  1. Awareness: It is important to become more aware of who you are and how you are different from and similar to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer people. Strategies to do this include:
    • Conversations with LGBTQ individuals
    • Attending awareness building workshops such as the Safe Zone workshop
    • Reading about LGBTQ issues
    • Self-examination
  2. Knowledge/Education: You must begin to, and continue to, acquire knowledge about sexual orientation and gender identity and what the experience is for LGBTQ persons in society and your campus community. You can do this by:
    • Learning about laws, policies, and practices, and how they affect the LGBTQ community
    • Educating yourself about LGBTQ cultures and norms of your community
    • Contacting local and national LGBTQ organizations for information
    • Utilizing the educational materials and resources on UCM Safe Zone's website (www.ucmo.edu/safezone) and UCM's LGBTQ Resource page (www.ucmo.edu/maps/lgbtq.cfm)
    • Reading LGBTQ publications
    • Attending LGBTQ events on campus and in the community
  3. Skills: You must develop skills in communicating the knowledge that you have. You can do this by:
    • Attending workshops such as Safe Zone and continuing education events
    • Role playing situations with friends
    • Developing support connections
    • Practicing interventions or awareness raising
  4. Action: Action is, without a doubt, the only way that we can affect change in society as a whole, for, if we keep our awareness, knowledge, and skills to ourselves, we deprive the rest of the world of what we have learned, thus keeping them from having the fullest possible life. You can do this by:
    • Supporting LGBTQ students and colleagues
    • Actively working to support social justice and equality for all people regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity
    • Challenging homophobia/biphobia/transphobia and heterosexism

 

(Adapted from San Diego State University Safe Zone Manual 2009 Edition. http://newscenter.sdsu.edu/lgbtq/files/00378-szmanual.pdf)

 

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Qualities of Allies

 

An ally:

  • is an advocate for LGBTQ people
  • has worked (or is currently working) to develop an understanding of heterosexism, cissexism, biphobia, homophobia, transphobia, and heteronormativity, as well as the role of other "-isms"
  • chooses to align with LGBTQ people and responds to their needs
  • believes that it is in their self-interest to be an ally
  • expects support from other allies
  • is able to acknowledge and articulate how patterns of oppression have affected their life
  • is a "safe person" for someone who is LGBTQ to speak with. this means that one is committed to providing support and to maintaining confidentiality (as mich as possible given one's role on campus and reporting duties). This commitment extends to people with an LGBTQ roommate, friend, or family member who may wish to speak with someone
  • can refer someone to another ally if they feel they can't assist them with their particular concern
  • expects to make some mistakes but does not use it as an excist for non-action
  • knows that an ally has the right and ability to initiate change through peronal, intitutional, and social justice
  • tries to remain aware of how homophobia/biphobia/transphobia and other oppressions exist in their environment
  • does not put down other groups of people on the basis of their race, ethnicity, citizenship status, religion, culture, gender identity or expression, sex, social status, physical appearance, sexual orientation, SES, or ability
  • speaks up when a homophobic, biphobic, or transphobic joke or stereotype is related and encourages discussions about oppression, or looks within themself to unlearn the "myths" that society has taught
  • promotes a sense of community and knows that they are making a difference in the lives of others

 

(Adapted from San Diego State University Safe Zone Manual 2009 Edition. http://newscenter.sdsu.edu/lgbtq/files/00378-szmanual.pdf)

 

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Ten Ways to Be an Ally

 

  1. Don't assume everyone is heterosexual or cisgender
  2. Never "out" someone. Just because you might know, don't assume that others do.
  3. Avoid anti-LGBTQ jokes and conversations.
  4. Create an atmosphere of acceptance.
  5. Use all-inclusive and gender neutral language. Use "partner" instead of "boyfriend" or "girlfriend."
  6. Actively pursue a process of self-education. Read and ask questions.
  7. Acknowledge and take responsibility for your own socialization, prejudice, and privilege.
  8. Educate others through one-on-one discussions, group programming, and utilizing teachable moments.
  9. Interrupt prejudice and take action against oppression even when people from the target group are not present.
  10. Have a vision of a healthy, multicultural society.

 

(Adapted from San Diego State University Safe Zone Manual 2009 Edition. http://newscenter.sdsu.edu/lgbtq/files/00378-szmanual.pdf)

 

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Benefits of Being an Ally

 

  • Becoming less locked into sex roles and gender stereotypes
  • Helping the lives of members of the LGBTQ community
  • Makling a difference in the campus environment
  • Relieving oppression--oppression impacts everyone.
  • Supporting your friend, classmate, student roommate, teammate, brother, sisteer, colleague, mother, father, other peers, and other people you know who are LGBTQ
  • Developing stronger self-esteem and lowering occurences of depression, abuse of drugs and alcohol, and suicide.

 

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Guidelines for Allies

 

These are some guidelines for people wanting to be allies for LGBTQ individuals. In today’s world, LGBTQ issues are being discussed more than ever before. The discussions are often highly charged and emotional and can be a scary and confusing to people on a very personal level. Being an ally is important, but it can be challenging as well as exciting. This list is by no means exhaustive, but provides a starting point. Add your own ideas and suggestions.

 

  • Don’t assume heterosexuality. In our society, we generally assume that everyone we meet is heterosexual. Often people hide who they really are until they know they are safe to come “out”. Use gender neutral language when referring to someone’s partner if you don’t know the person well. Be aware of the gender language you use and the implications this language might have.
  • Educate yourself about LGBTQ issues. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Also, don’t expect your students to always educate you. Often LGBTQ individuals feel some pressure and frustration with having to always educate those who are supposed to be in helping positions.
  • Educate yourself on transgender and intersex issues.
  • Do not assume that everyone falls into the two categories of male/man and female/woman.
  • Explore ways to creatively integrate LGBTQ issues in your work. Establishing dialogue and educating about LGBTQ identities in the context of your other work can be a valuable process for everyone regardless of sexual orientation/gender identity. Integration of LGBTQ issues into work you are doing instead of separating it out as a separate topic is an important strategy to establishing a safe place for people to talk about many issues in their lives.
  • Challenge stereotypes that people may have about LGBTQ individuals, as well as other people in our society. Challenge derogatory remarks and jokes made about any group of people. Avoid making those remarks yourself. Avoid reinforcing stereotypes and prejudices.
  • Examine the effect sexual orientation and gender identity have on people’s lives and development. Identify how race, religion, class, ability and gender intersect with sexual orientation and how multiple identities shape our lives.
  • Avoid the use of heterosexist and cissexist language, such as making remarks implying that all people of the same gender date or marry members of the other gender or that all people fit into the categories of men and women. Respect how people choose to name themselves. Most people with a same-sex or bisexual orientation prefer to be called gay, lesbian or bisexual rather than homosexual. “Queer” is increasingly used by some gay, lesbian, or bisexual people (especially in the younger generations, in more urban areas, etc…), but don’t use it unless you are clear that it is okay with that person. If you don’t know how to identify a particular group, it’s okay to ask. (“How do you define your sexuality? Do you like to use certain terms over others?”) Same goes for someone’s pronouns – if you don’t know ask! (How do you like to be referred to? What pronouns do you us?) It is better to ask than to assume.
  • Don’t expect members of any population that is a target of bias (e.g. gays, Jews, people of color, women, and people with disabilities) to always be the experts on issues pertaining to their particular identity group. Avoid tokenizing or patronizing individuals from different groups.
  • Encourage and allow disagreement on topics of sexual identity and related civil rights. These issues are very highly charged and confusing. If there isn’t some disagreement, it probably means that people are tuned out or hiding their real feelings. Keep disagreement and discussion focused on principles and issues rather than personalities and keep disagreement respectful. Address derogatory language and/or disrespectful comments directly, even if you believe there are “no LGBTQ people in the room.”
  • Remember that you are human. Allow yourself not to know everything, to make mistakes, and to occasionally be insensitive. Avoid setting yourself up as an expert unless you are one. Give yourself time to learn the issues and ask questions and to explore your own personal feelings.
  • Ask for support if you are getting harassed or problems are surfacing related to your raising issues around sexual orientation and gender identity. Don’t isolate yourself in these kinds of situations and try to identify your supporters. You may be labeled as LGBTQ, whether you are or not. Use this opportunity to deepen your understanding of the power of homophobia/biphobia/transphobia and heterosexism. Make sure you are safe.
  • Prepare yourself for a journey of change and growth that will come by exploring sexuality and gender identity issues, heterosexism, transphobia and other issues of difference. This can be a painful, exciting and enlightening process and will help you to know yourself better. By learning and speaking out as an ally, you will be making the world a safer, more affirming place for all. Without knowing it, you may change or even save people’s lives.

 

(Adapted  from:  San Diego State University Safe Zone Manual 2009 Edition

http://newscenter.sdsu.edu/lgbtq/files/00378-szmanual.pdf

Source: Metropolitan State College of Denver Safe Zone Program www.mscd.edu/~glbtss/programs/SafeZonePacket.pdf )

 

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