Let's get straight to the point.
Here Is Why You Need LGBT Training For Your Organisation Heterosexual Filters
- We live in a heteronormative world where we are taught that to be heterosexual and cisgender is normal and anything outside of that is wrong or not accepted. From a young age we experience social conditioning and we inherit the things we learn about what is right and wrong.
- As a result, we have developed heterosexual and cisgendered filters. Everything we see and experience in the world runs through these filters. Whether at home or at work. LGBT or otherwise.
- Without knowing it, everyone in your organisation is making decisions, having conversations and engaging in their roles with these heterosexual and cisgendered filters. This can be incredibly damaging for the LGBT individuals in your organisation.
Section 28 and the Aids Epidemic
- Section 28. The law stated that local authorities should not 'intentionally promote homosexuality or publish material with the intention of promoting homosexuality'. Introduced in 1987 and abolished in 2003, that meant for 16 years same-sex relationships were not discussed, promoted or taught in schools.
- During this time LGB individuals grew up not having any LGB references or a safe space to explore their sexuality. Non-LGB individuals were not educated or given the safe space to ask questions about LGBT life. The impact of this can be seen today, in the workplace and in society. Misunderstandings. Stereotyping. Judgements. Criticism. Hatred. Aggression. Frustration. Shame. Guilt. Abuse, bullying and harassment because of our sexuality. I could go on...
- In the mid-1980s there was an intense media focus on AIDS; a new disease that was terrifying and had no cure. It was known as the 'gay disease'.
- Section 28 and the Aids Epidemic (and media coverage of this) created misunderstandings and a terrified nation. Sadly, homophobia has always been rife but it was escalated dramatically at this time. The impact of this was still felt nationwide when I was a teenager and is still felt by LGBTQ people of all ages today.
- Section 28, the Aids Epidemic and living in a heteronormative world have resulted in gay people (I am using that term as a general term for gay, lesbian and queer people) not feeling safe or comfortable to bring their whole self to work and life. They hide behind masks to ensure they fit in.
Lack of Awareness
- Unconscious bias. We all have unconscious bias. The origin is our social conditioning. Our decisions are made based on unconscious bias.
- It is likely that the older generation in your organisation grew up only knowing the gender binary (man and woman). Chances are they are struggling to understand that gender is on a spectrum and all the different gender variations. The younger generation consider that gender is on a spectrum and gender fluidity is their norm. The older generation in your organisation may be struggling to relate to the younger generation because of this. You can raise their awareness through education.
- Within the non-LGBT community there is a general lack of awareness and understanding of LGBT life and the challenges LGBT individuals face. The general public have a limited perspective and understanding of LGBT life based on the little that is represented in the media. This is often based on stereotypes and false assumptions.
Here Is A Checklist To Ensure Your LGBT Training Is A Huge Success
- Make it mandatory. For everyone.
- Make it regular. Not a one-off training session. It needs to happen multiple times throughout the year. Every year.
- Make it face-to-face training. Online training is great for certain subjects. LGBT training isn't one of them. Online training won't deliver the personal conversations and safe space to ask questions that face-to-face training does.
- Have it designed so it is bespoke for your organisational needs. Off the shelf training is pointless. It doesn't take into account the complexities of your organisation, employees, customers and suppliers and you will be left disappointed.
- Make it accessible to every single person in the business. Senior leaders, managers, HR, employees – from the top all the way to the ground level. Everyone will be in contact with LGBT individuals, whether they know it or not.
- Make sure you have tailored training for the different groups in your organisation. Managers will need to know different things to your employees, for instance.
- Make sure it is delivered by an LGBT trainer. The power from the LGBT training is in the sharing of personal anecdotes and stories from an LGBT person. You won't get this from a heterosexual trainer.
- Make sure the training is robust and the content relevant for at least 10 years.
- Make it active, not passive. Expect to see lots of discussion and interaction in the training. People learn best when they are discussing their own workplace observations and scenarios, not just sitting and listening.
- Make sure it offers practical, actionable strategies – not just a top level overview.
- Be sure the delegates are encouraged to leave with an action plan, deliverables and full accountability for next steps.
Make Sure Everyone Has Access To Follow Up Support
This should include:
- Access to an online resource bank of materials and support throughout the year. Be sure it includes training videos, articles and a question and answer facility and educates and supports everyone in the organisation. For instance, on subjects such as bi-visibility, trans inclusion, how to deal with homophobia, biphobia, transphobia and many more LGBT+ areas!
- Regular 'top ups' and refresher courses throughout the year.
- People from across the organisation (at any level) meeting regularly to discuss issues, challenges and celebrate the achievements.
The LGBT Training
Make sure it covers:
- Why LGBT individuals don't bring all of who they are to work
- The strategies that LGBT individuals develop to function in the workplace
- The biggest challenges LGBT individuals face in the workplace
- How to support LGBT individuals in the workplace – employees, customers etc
- Unconscious bias
- Challenging stereotypes
- The social conditioning LGBT individuals face growing up in a heteronormative world, and the impact of this on our adult lives and in the workplace
- How to effectively deal with LGBT related issues
- The correct language to use
- How to challenge inappropriate behaviour
The Difference A Successful LGBT Training Programme Can Make
- LGBT+ life is normalised
- The next generation of LGBT+ individuals feel a sense of belonging and acceptance in the workplace
- Educates non-LGBT individuals about LGBT life in a heteronormative world
- A workplace culture where everyone can bring their whole selves to work
- Deeper understanding of social conditioning and the impact it has
- Promotes LGBT inclusion and equality in work AND life
- Empowers individuals to become LGBT allies
- Encourages LGBT individuals to become workplace role models
- Deeper connections with LGBT individuals in the workplace. Impacts on productivity, creativity, communication etc.
This shouldn't be a one-off training session.
This should be an ongoing commitment where you are creating the safe space to have regular discussions, training and support all year round.
When you have all of the points I mention above covered, you ensure your training ripples out and creates LASTING change in the organisation and in the wider community.
Next Steps For LGBT Training For Companies
Is it time to review your training?
To get an LGBT trainer to update or upgrade it?
Or maybe even devise something that is more bespoke and fit for purpose.
I can help with that.
For more information on the LGBT training I offer for companies,
About Gina Battye
Creating Authentic & Inclusive Workplaces for Fortune 500s & Leading Global Organisations.
Gina Battye is a world-renowned LGBT Consultant, Trainer and Advisor for Fortune 500s + Leading Global Organisations, TV, Film, Theatre, Radio and the Global Press.