This month marks LGBT+ History Month. It is a time that recognises the sacrifices and achievements made by LGBT+ communities, and highlights the often-overlooked histories of those communities.
The theme of LGBT+ History Month this year is “The Arc Is Long”, based upon the famous quote from Martin Luther King Jr: “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”.
The quote is oft cited, but occasionally misused. When MLK spoke those words, he intended them as a spiritual truth rather than a political or societal one. It was not intended to mean that positive societal change is inevitable.
That is why I think allies are so crucial – in the workplace, at schools and universities, in Parliament and in our trade unions. Being a member of the LGBT+ community is without question a wonderful thing – most of the time. The culture, the friendships and the camaraderie are second to none. But over the past couple of years, it has become increasingly difficult.
We’ve seen LGBT+ charities like Stonewall and Mermaids face a concerted and well-funded attack on its very existence – a cause now seemingly backed by our government and our “equalities” minister Liz Truss.
The government, often seeking distractions from their own mistakes, are becoming heavily reliant on stoking culture wars particularly around trans people.
Whilst much progress has been made towards equality over the last few decades, there is still so much work to do. A report in 2018 showed that almost one in five LGBT+ staff have been the target of negative conduct from work colleagues in the last year because they’re LGBT+.
The report also found that more than a third of LGBT+ staff have hidden or disguised that they are LGBT+ at work in the last year because they were afraid of discrimination. One in eight lesbian, gay and bi people wouldn’t feel confident reporting any homophobic or biphobic bullying to their employer, and one in five trans people wouldn’t report transphobic bullying in the workplace.
A safe, inclusive future for LGBT+ communities is not an inevitability. Progress is not guaranteed, and it can be undone or reversed. If you’re an ally, are you wondering what you can do to help yet?
The answer is incredibly simple – stand with us.
There are a million ways to help – ways that can make meaningful impactful change.
Stand up for your colleague at work who’s facing discrimination, donate to LGBT+ charities, help us to ban conversion therapy by writing to your MP, invite LGBT+ speakers to your branch meetings, encourage LGBT+ people to stand for positions in your union.
Community recently produced a guide for LGBT+ workers and allies, explaining what rights you have at work, and best practice for workplaces to make LGBT+ people feel supported and safe. I’d advise all allies to give it a read, bookmark it and share it with their colleagues and wider networks.
For LGBT+ History Month this year, it is vital that allies step up. It should not be all on us alone to make a positive change, we need our allies to step in and step up to create a more equal society for LGBT+ people, and ensure that the arc of history does bend towards justice.
If you are a member of Community and need help or advice, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 0800 389 6332.