At Redstone, diversity and inclusion is at the forefront of everything we do. Creating successful and safe environments for all of our associations’ members at events, meetings, and conferences is an integral part of our business. Recently, the Redstone team had the extreme pleasure of participating in a three-hour workshop for creating safer and more accepting spaces from our friends at Egale Canada Human Rights Trust. Egale’s mission is to improve the lives of LGBTQI2S people in Canada and to enhance the global response to LGBTQI2S issues. They envision a world without homophobia, biphobia, transphobia and all other forms of oppression so that every person can achieve their full potential, free from hatred and bias.
Below are a few key takeaways from our workshop with Egale and some tips for how you and your team can create a more inclusive and safe environment.
There are various commonly used pronouns that individuals may use other than variations of him/her. Gender neutral pronouns include: singular they, ze/zie, spivak, and xe. Referring to someone by the wrong pronouns or “mis-gendering” can cause that individual to feel ousted, vulnerable, and disrespected. Imagine constantly being called by the wrong name, even after multiple attempts at correction. How frustrating, right? Being respectful includes using the pronouns with which that person identifies. If you aren’t sure of the proper pronoun to use, never assume – ask respectfully. You may even be proactive and offer your own pronouns when meeting new people.
The Genderbread Person, or, as we called it during our session, “gendy”, is a friendly infographic that visually represents four components of human identity: assigned sex, gender identity, gender expression, and attraction. Most people think they know the differences between these terms but they can get tricky. Learning about these topics in a fun, light-hearted way encourages people to feel safe and subsequently ask questions, and when people ask questions everyone around is more well-informed.
LGBTQI2S issues should not matter just to LGBTQI2S folk; they should matter to everyone. Acting in allyship entails learning, practicing and reflecting. Listen to LGBTQI2S people around you and take the initiative to seek out information and opportunities to enhance your understanding. Begin practicing what you preach: stick up for a fellow friend if they have been offended, use inclusive language and encourage others to do so too. Reflect upon your behaviour and others’ around you and be open to feedback. Most importantly, remember everyone’s experiences are different so avoid assumptions at all costs.
LQBTQI2S Inclusive Events and Spaces
As planners, we always strive to create events that will have a lasting effect on our attendees. Ensure your events are inclusive by keeping these tips top of mind:
- Consider if it is absolutely necessary to collect gender information for your event. If it is, ensure you request this information in a way that allows individuals to properly self-identify, such as open-ended questions as opposed to binary checkboxes;
- Use gender inclusive language such as “everyone” or “folks” as opposed to “ladies and gentlemen” and avoid using gendered titles such as “Mr.” or “Mrs.”;
- Clearly communicate to all stakeholders that the event is LGBTQI2S-inclusive— this demonstrates that your team and organization is respectful and open-minded.
At Redstone, we acknowledge that we live in a world of “differences” – gender, race, religion, sexual identity, abilities, socio-economic status and much more. Nevertheless, we strongly believe that these differences must be embraced, and not shied away from. More often than not, these differences create divides among people; however by putting in the time and effort to learn about these differences and create more accepting spaces, this can begin to change.
If you would like to learn more about Egale and their work please visit www.egale.ca.
Kaitlyn McGuirk, MA
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