Coming out at work
Last updated: September 21, 2022
Unfortunately, many LGBT+ workers still today don’t feel comfortable coming out at work. This means they do not, or do not want to, disclose their sexual orientation or gender identity. This is often due to fears of discrimination.
While coming out at work can be scary to think about, it is vital to remember that you should be able to be your true self and be confident in who you are, no matter where you are.
LGBT+ workers are protected by the Equality Act 2010. It is illegal to discriminate based on your sexual orientation or gender identity.
If you fear that you will be discriminated against at work because you are LGBT+, you should speak to your union Rep or employer for support. If you fear discrimination from your employer, you should contact Community for support.
There are many benefits to coming out at work. This can include:
Not at all – it is ultimately your decision whether or not you come out.
There is no set way to come out at work and this experience is unique to everyone who goes through it. You should only come out when you feel comfortable to do so and should not feel pressured into coming out.
If you are considering coming out, you may want to consider these options:
It is your employer’s duty to ensure that you are safe at work, including safe from discrimination.
If you fear that you will face discrimination or are the victim of discrimination because of being LGBT+, we would advise that you speak to your union Rep and employer immediately for support. If this is not resolved informally, then a formal complaint can be made, or the case can be escalated to an employment tribunal. You should inform Community immediately if you intend to do this, as our legal team may be able to provide advice and support you through this process.
Employers have a responsibility to create an inclusive working environment and support any LGBT+ workers. This can include:
If your employer is discriminating against you for being LGBT+, contact Community immediately for support.
You should be able to come out as and when you see fit. Being outed before you are ready can lead to feelings of humiliation and anxiety.
If your sexual orientation or gender identity is made public without your consent, this may be considered harassment or unlawful discrimination, depending on how it was disclosed.
If you are outed at work before you are ready, you should immediately speak with your union Rep or employer for support. If you are outed by your employer, you should contact Community.
That’s great that you want to support your colleague. Here are some ways you can actively support them in coming out:
You can also indirectly support your colleague by supporting all activity which encourages creating an LGBT+ inclusive workplace. This can include encouraging your employer to regularly update workplace policies, encourage equality training and workshops or celebrate LGBT+ events at work.
If you are not LGBT+ and want to support your colleagues, you can find our guidance on LGBT+ rights at work here.
If you are passionate about LGBT+ issues and rights, you may also want to consider becoming a Community Equalities Rep. In this role, you can ensure that the voices of LGBT+ workers are heard and that your workplace policies reflect this.
If you need help or advice, please contact us at email@example.com or on 0800 389 6332.
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