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Tips for Allies

Tips for Becoming a Better Ally

  • Don’t assume everyone is heterosexual or cisgender.
  • Avoid anti-gay jokes and conversations, and speak up when you encounter these.
  • Never “out” anyone- just because you might know, doesn’t mean others do.
  • Create an atmosphere of acceptance. Be inclusive of people who are LGBTQ in your language, your social interactions, and your professional roles.
  • Acquire knowledge and increase your understanding of sexual orientation and gender identity issues. Learn about laws, polices, and practices and how they affect LGBTQ persons.
  • Make use of your new knowledge and develop skills in communicating to others the knowledge you have learned.
  • Become aware of who you are and how you are different from and similar to LGBTQ persons.
  • Acknowledge and take responsibility for your own socialization, prejudice, and privilege.
  • Confront prejudice based on sexual orientation and gender identity, and respond to instances of discrimination and harassment in an appropriate manner.
  • Use the words “gay”, “lesbian” etc. instead of “homosexual.” The overwhelming majority of the LGBTQ community do not identity with or use the word “homosexual” to describe themselves.
  • Use non-gender specific language. Ask “Are you seeing someone?” or “Are you in a committed relationship?” instead of “Do you have a boyfriend/girlfriend?”. Also, use the word “partner” or “significant other” in conversation instead of “boyfriend/girlfriend” or “husband/wife.”
  • Do not assume the sexual orientation of another person even when that person is in a committed relationship with someone of a different gender/sex. Many bisexuals, and even some gay men and lesbians, are in different-gender/sex relationships. Also, do not assume that a transgender person is gay or will seek to transition to become heterosexual.
  • Do not assume that a gay, lesbian, or bisexual person is attracted to you just because they have disclosed their sexual identity. If any interested is shown, be flattered, not flustered. Treat any interest that someone might show just as you would if it came from someone who was heterosexual.
  • Challenge your own conceptions about gender-appropriate roles and behaviors. Do not expect people to conform to society’s beliefs about “women” and “men.”
  • Validate people’s gender expression. For example, if a person assigned male at birth identifies as female, refer to that person as “she” and use her chosen name. If you are unsure how to refer to a person’s gender, simply ask that person. 

Adapted from the Carnegie Mellon University SafeZone Workbook.