How to Be an LGBTQ Ally

You probably have at least one person in your life who openly identifies as LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer). And while acceptance has increased in recent years, LGBTQ people still face many challenges, including hate crimes, discrimination and barriers to healthcare. Those barriers can include a fear of being judged by others, including healthcare providers. This may lead to avoiding or delaying necessary medical care.

As a healthcare organization, Memorial wants to create a healing environment where everyone feels safe to receive care. We can each play a role in creating an open environment for our LGBTQ community. That’s why being an ally is so important.

So what exactly is an ally?

An ally is a person who does not identify as LGBTQ, but supports LGTBQ people. Allies are committed to learning, understanding and addressing any barriers to equality.

Here are five ways you can be an ally and start to move toward a more inclusive and equal society.

  1. Use neutral language. When asking about family and relationships, don’t assume everyone you’re talking to is heterosexual. Asking about a “spouse” or “significant other” instead of a “husband” or “wife” can make the conversation more open and inviting for all to participate.
  1. Use gender-neutral pronouns. By using the neutral “they” and “them” pronouns in your daily life, you ensure that everyone is included. Once you get to know a person’s preferred pronouns, you can address them in the way they identify.
  1. Commit to learn. Acknowledge that as an ally, each of us has more to learn. This acknowledgement will open you up to accepting new experiences and information.
  1. Listen. Take time to listen to those in the LGBTQ community. Each person has a unique experience and perspective to share. A listening ear is one way to acknowledge each person’s individuality and perspective as valuable.
  1. Speak up. Don’t let jokes or inappropriate remarks go unaddressed. It can be uncomfortable to speak up in these situations, but addressing these inappropriate behaviors with kindness and a desire to educate can really make a difference. You can also speak up by using inclusive and gender-neutral language. If you lead by example, others are more likely to follow.

These tips are provided by a group of Memorial Health System colleagues committed to addressing and supporting LGBTQ issues in healthcare.