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You're done! Thanks for taking the time to complete the survey on behalf of your school.
Curious about the LGBT IQ portion of the survey you just took? Here are some answers (highlighted in blue), and resources to learn more.
1a. In how many states can people still be fired or evicted for being lesbian, gay or bisexual?
- None - federal law protects all people from discrimination
- 17 states
- 29 states
- 36 states
1a. In how many states can people still be fired or evicted for transgender?
- None - federal law protects all people from discrimination
- 8 states
- 29 states
- 32 states
No federal law prevents employment or housing discrimination based on sexual orientation, and state laws only protect them in 21 states. For transgender people, even fewer states have protections - only 18. More info at the Movement Advancement Project.
2. What percentage of LGBT people are reported to be in the closet at work?
The Human Rights Campaign's 2014 report, “The Cost of the Closet and the Rewards of Inclusion” identified that over 50% of LGBT people don't feel comfortable enough to be open about their sexual orientation or gender identity at work, revealing that despite huge advances in LGBT-inclusive workplace policies, workplace culture still doesn't feel safe or welcoming for the majority of LGBT workers. More info here.
3. How do you think being closeted at work affects employee productivity?
Diversity experts, including the folks at Diversity Best Practices, have documented how employees are less productive (some internal studies say up to 30-40%) when they don't bring their whole selves to work, due to the physical and emotional energy consumed by covering their true identities. This disadvantage far outweighs any perceived advantages of avoiding "controversy" or conversation about sexuality. More info here.
4. What percentage of transgender people report having experienced harassment or mistreatment on the job?
The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force's 2011 National Transgender Discrimination Survey revealed that 90% of transgender people experience at least one incident of harassment or mistreatment at work. The number is up to 43% for gay and lesbian workers. More info here.
5. What would be appropriate things to say when a colleague comes out to you? Check all that apply.
We'll go through an explanation of each of these separately.*
- I thought you might be gay: No. Although it is a common response, it’s insensitive and plays into stereotypes.
- I'm sorry: No. Why should you apologize for a colleague’s orientation? This implies judgment and can make the situation more difficult. Would you apologize for a person’s ethnicity or gender?
- What can I do to help? Yes! The best sign of an ally is one who proactively works to show their support. Ask if there are conversations you can have, events you can attend, or something you can post in your office to show your co-worker that you’re behind them. And reconfirm your commitment to supporting them beyond the first conversation – coming out is a continuous, never-ending process.
- How out are you here at work/school? Yes! Clarify the level of confidentiality your co-worker would like from you, and respect their wishes.
- How do you prefer to be referred to? Yes! Folks in the LGBT community identify in a variety of different ways – for example, a woman who is attracted to women may identify as a lesbian, a gay woman, bisexual, queer, or none of these. A transgender or gender non-conforming person may have a preferred pronoun. Rather than make an assumption about a person’s identity, just ask.
- What do you do in bed? No. Sexual questions and comments are always off-limits. Not only do you run the risk of offending a colleague, you are also teetering the line of sexual harassment. It’s important not to be confused between trying to understand someone’s personal life and inappropriate sexual harassment.
- Are you seeing anyone? Yes! Express interest in your co-worker’s life and relationships to show that you aren’t afraid to let them open up; they may have been keeping their personal life separated from their professional life for a long time. At the same time, be sure to respect their privacy if they prefer not to disclose.
*"No" explanations courtesy of Diversity Inc.
6. What would be appropriate things to say if someone makes a stereotype or negative comment about LGBT people in the workplae? Check all that apply.
We'll go through an explanation of each of these separately, too.
- What makes you think that?: Yes. Asking questions always helps to understand people’s motivations. Perhaps they are saying something because they have an anti-LGBT belief, but perhaps they’re simply uninformed or think it’s ok to make a joke if anti-LGBT sentiment isn’t their intention. This will help you get more information to direct a further conversation.
- You must be saying that because of your religion: No. Making an assumption about a person’s motivations always directs the conversation in a negative way. Plus, it’s an example of stereotyping, which is one of the big issues we’re working to address as allies.
- I can see why you might think that: Yes. Building a connection with the person you’re talking to is one of the most effective ways to start a dialogue that can change people’s viewpoints, according to data from The Breakthrough Conversation, a California-based coalition that collects learnings from conversations about LGBT issues. Expressing empathy for a person’s reasoning and finding common ground to relate to them shows that you are open to their viewpoint, making them more likely to be open to yours.
- That's a closed-minded thing to say: No. Name-calling and labeling put people on the defensive and are unconstructive. If you define them (or something they’ve said) as homophobic, bigoted, or closed-minded, you’re moving away from a conversation where you could find common ground and have a respectful debate, and towards an exchanging of labels and stereotypes that leaves everyone feeling hurt and gets no one anywhere.
- You can't say that, it's against our non-discrimination policy: No. While it may be true, lecturing or listing cans and can’ts is also unconstructive. It leaves people thinking not about the merit of the thing they said, but whether or not they have the right to the freedom to say it. Furthermore, it is in our best interest to move people towards avoiding offensive speech not because it is against the rules, but because it’s hurtful and bad for the community.
- Let me tell you why this matters to me: Yes. Sharing your own perspective, how you came to the conclusion, and how the other person might be able to go through the same process, makes the issue personal and real, not just philosophical. It helps to share a personal story to bring the issue to life “I saw how much it affected my colleague when someone said that around him”) or how it relates to your personal and shared values (“it’s important to me that we have a school where everyone feels comfortable, and I know that matters to you too”).
- I know fairness in the workplace is important to you; that’s what’s at stake here too: Yes. Building on shared values is a key way to connect with someone to help them see the perspective you’re trying to share. Using what you know about the person and their values to shed light on the perspectives you share, rather than those that divide you, can help them come to the conclusion themselves that their behavior could be hurtful.
7. What is an ally?
- A straight person who take action to advance LGBT equality.
- An individual who is a political activist for LGBT equality
- An individual who takes action to advance LGBT equality.
- An individual who cares about LGBT equality.
An ally need not be straight, an expert on sexuality and gender, or active in politics. But caring about and feeling supportive of LGBT equality isn’t enough – it’s what you do with that feeling that matters. For Friendfactor, being an ally centers around the action you take. We define an ally as an individual who takes action to advance the equality and inclusion of others, regardless of personal identity.
8. Why do you think allies are important for supporting the LGBT community? Check all that apply.
- LGBT people only represent a small portion (4%) of the US population
- Allies can reach groups of people who might not know or listen to an LGBT person
- Allies are louder advocates because they don’t have to worry about being targeted
- LGBT people feel more comfortable when they know who their supporters are in their community
- Allies don’t really have an important role to play
Allies are important for many reasons, including: straight people represent the vast majority of the US population and therefore have the capability to build a mainstream movement; allies can show a critical mass of support to LGBT people within their workplace and school communities; and some people may be more likely to listen to a straight person talk about LGBT issues than an LGBT person themself. However, allies can be targeted for their views and don't necessarily help the movement by being "louder". One thing that is clear is that allies have a key role to play in the movement for LGBT inclusion.
9. What can people do to be strong LGBT allies? Check all that apply.
- Use gender neutral terms like partner, spouse, or significant other in their everyday language.
- Display a pride or ally sticker or pin on their locker, laptop or bag.
- Approach people they think might be in the closet to let them know they’re supportive.
- Start a conversation with their team or social group about an LGBT current event.
- Ignore people who make negative comments or jokes about LGBT people.
- Show up to an LGBT club meeting.
Changing one's language, using visible identifiers, starting conversations, and showing up are all great ways to be a strong ally. Approaching people who may be in the closet is not a great way to be supportive because it reveals the person's own stereotypes and may make a person feel uncomfortable; every LGBT person comes out at their own pace. On the other hand, ignoring a negative comment or anti-gay joke implies accepting that those are okay things to say, so it is important to speak up rather than stay silent when anti-LGBT language is used.
10. If you wanted to get more information on LGBT facts, issues, and news, do you know of resources (besides Google) that you could use?
No right or wrong answers here, but if you aren't sure of the resources that are available, here are a few handy ones:
- LGBT facts, figures & maps: The Movement Advancement Project
- Issue analysis: Center for American Progress
- News: GLAAD Link daily updates, Human Rights Campaign SMS action alerts
- Find local LGBT centers: CenterLink
- Find campus LGBT resource centers: Consortium of Higher Education LGBT Resource Professionals
- Friendfactor resources:
- Other ally organizations: PFLAG, Athlete Ally, The Ally Coalition, Straight But Not Narrow, Swish
We hope this is helpful and has you excited to get more involved as an ally on your campus over the course of the year! Please reach out to us if you have any questions.