How to Support LGBTQIA+ Employees and Co-workers

LGBTQIA+ employees and co-workers are integral parts of any workplace, bringing expansive and vibrant perspectives to your organization. LGBTQIA+ stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning or queer, intersex, and asexual. The plus sign is meant to be inclusive of the gender identities and sexual orientations that aren’t specifically covered by the acronym (such as pansexual or gender-fluid). 

Although June is known as “Pride Month,” it’s essential to support and celebrate this community year-round.

First, reflect on your own understanding of LGBTQIA+ experiences 

Before exploring tangible ways that you can offer support to LGBTQIA+ employees and co-workers, consider asking yourself these questions:

  • What do you already know about this community’s history, culture, and personal relationships with members? 
  • What type of advocacy, if any, have you previously engaged in? 
  • What types of resources are available to employees who identify as LGBTQIA+?
  • What types of educational resources do you need to feel better equipped to promote LGBTQIA+ inclusion?
  • Do the resources we share represent LGBTQIA+ people and experiences in the context of joy, strength, and celebration?

4 ways to support LGBTQIA+ colleagues’ mental health 

1) Recognize that LGBTQIA+ identities are multidimensional

While LGBTQIA+ identity may be an important part of someone’s lived experience, it’s not the only part of who they are. LGBTQIA+ people are parents, athletes, volunteers, and have identities (e.g., race, gender, religion) that create unique perspectives, needs, and preferences. 

Keep in mind that there’s also a lot of diversity between and within each sub-group within the LGBTQIA+ community. For example, gender and sexual orientation are two distinct identity groups with many differences between them. Similarly, not every person within a group will have the same experience.   

2) Approach conversations with empathy and openness

You don’t need to fully understand an LGBTQIA+ person’s experience to offer support and validation. Approach conversations and interactions with humility, curiosity, and empathy — and know it’s ok to “get things wrong” and ask questions

If your colleague mentions something specific to their experience as an LGBTQIA+ person and it’s a topic you’re unfamiliar with, listen attentively and show curiosity about what the experience means to them. 

Depending on your relationship with your co-worker, you may be able to ask follow-up or clarifying questions. You can ask something like, “I’m not too familiar with X. Do you feel comfortable sharing a little bit more about that?” 

3) Respect your co-workers’ autonomy

Whether or not a person chooses to disclose their LGBTQIA+ identity at work is a personal choice. If someone makes a disclosure to you, be sure to protect their privacy. As a rule of thumb, don’t talk about other people’s identities without their permission.

If someone is uninterested in discussing broad LGBTQIA+ topics with you, respect their decision and boundaries. Then consider channeling your interest into seeking information from educational organizations and reputable sources. 

4) Show commitment to LGBTQIA+ allyship

We can show support even in small ways. Start by using inclusive language and non-gendered acknowledgments in emails and conversations. For example, instead of saying, “husband and wife,” say “partners” or “spouses.” 

Another way to show allyship to LGBTQIA+ co-workers is to display your pronouns (e.g., they/them, he/him, or she/her) in your email signature, name tag, and other places where your name appears. Doing so promotes an environment where others feel safe to do the same. 

In a shared workplace, consider displaying a pin, sticker, flag, or other mementos at your desk that affirm your allyship with the LGBTQIA+ community.

Connect with a mental health expert who is right for you 

If you identify as a member of the LGBTQIA+ community, a mental health expert with specialized experience in gender and sexual identity can be custom-matched to you and your needs.

Learn more about how you can support LGBTQIA+ co-workers

Get started with Lyra today
By The Lyra Team
3 of June 2024 - 3 min read
Mental health tips
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