Allyship For Inclusion And Protection
We should be celebrating everyone’s right to live and love freely. While we will be supporting our LGBTQ+ family in various ways, unfortunately, in the last year instead of moving their rights forward, various organizations have been working hard to roll laws and support back in most states.
To date the proposed laws have largely been anti-trans rights, rolling back healthcare rights and coverage, and education and inclusion in K-12 school curriculums.
Thankfully, 91% of these proposed bills have failed to become law. But there is clearly a massive shift in the momentum around LGBTQ+ rights in our country.
To be effective allies we need to be educated, so today we’re taking a look at a few of the larger issues currently under debate and how to take action as co-conspirators.
Privacy & Safety
Pronoun usage has become a more or less common practice. LinkedIn added it to their profiles and many organizations have added nonbinary pronouns as an option to forms. This seems like a step forward in supporting individuals of all genders. All knowledge is power, and while sometimes it’s helpful and appropriate to gather this information, it isn’t always. We’re seeing how gender identity information can in fact be used to perpetrate further harm.
The potential harm ranges from “unfair” to actively “illegal”. The most obvious is the potential use of discrimination in a huge variety of settings. Whether that’s for getting hired for a job, how you’re treated once you have it, and whether or not you keep it. The same can be said for housing opportunities, education, credit access, etc. Forms that ask for gender identity information can be used against individuals in so many places that it’s hard to keep track.
So while we do want to be open and inclusive, take a moment to determine if asking about gender identity is, in fact, necessary to serve that individual appropriately, before simply adding it to every form you have.
Recommendations for protecting the data privacy of LGBTQ+ individuals:
Organizations can take common-sense steps to ensure the privacy of this information.
- Understand the ins and outs of SOGI information and then revisit your company practices for collecting this information, and how it’s used.
- Avoid the collection of SOGI information when it is unnecessary and, especially, when it is not used for the benefit of LGBTQ+ communities or individuals.
- Provide effective safeguards for this data, how it’s collected, and how it’s stored.
- Get consent for its collection and use (make this data optional to provide whenever possible), and clearly communicate how that information may be used.
- Consider omitting this data before it is shared with third parties, especially if they will make that data publicly accessible in a way that could increase the risk of outing individuals.
Data Rights and Privacy for LBGTA+ Students
Data protection and misuse are also huge issues for school-age kids. Schools may be using tools or 3rd party suppliers for online solutions that monitor kids’ searches, social media accounts, and more. Students and parents need to be aware of what their districts are using, what information is collected, and how that may be used.
Queer In Tech
Previously we’ve focused on highlighting (mostly) historical Queer individuals in Tech. Increasing the visibility and notoriety these individuals deserve is important to encourage the next generation of LGBTQ+ tech innovators and pioneers. Because it’s not a secret that Tech and agency culture can be pretty Bro-heavy.
At Intuitive, changing the culture in Tech and Marketing agencies is part of our purpose. But if you’re not fortunate enough to work here (or another culturally progressive and inclusive agency) you might need some support working at a place that may not fully support you.
It is essential we lower barriers to bringing LGBTQ+ individuals into tech and marketing spaces. To ensure new programming and AI algorithms are equitable and not being encoded with unconscious anti-gay biases. As well as crafting marketing campaigns that are inclusive, accurate, and supportive, which can help change our societal perceptions for the better towards the Gay and Trans community.
But getting hired is only half the battle. Once in an organization, we need to be sure to support our team members through both the daily culture of the organization and its policies such as inclusive and exhaustive healthcare coverage for trans individuals.
If you’re looking for groups that support LGBTQ+ people in tech there are several to choose from.
Check out these 13 groups that support LGBTQ+ workers in tech.
If you’re looking for influencers and trailblazers active today, here is an awesome list of LGBTQ+ Tech and STEM people doing a variety of work in this space. Follow their socials, reach out for support and mentorship, or maybe even apply to work at their company with them.
Don’t forget to follow the Out In Tech blog which covers a variety of topics related to being Queer in the workplace.
And if you’re actively looking for a job right now, Onward Search is here for you.
Combatting Anti-Gay Legislation
While we all want to make huge changes that have a wide impact for all. Often times the most impact we can actually make is on a local level. The ACLU is actively tracking anti-LGBTQ+ bills by state. By being aware of the issues currently making its way through your state’s legislation you can become an advocate for raising awareness, and elevating the voices against passing these bills. Singing petitions, attending town halls, providing feedback during session hearings, or working with local organizations on campaigns to combat these bills from passing can all be meaningful steps on protecting the rights of your immediate community.
This also becomes a precedent for shutting down anti-gay laws at a state level, which can create enough momentum to protect against introducing and passing legislation at a federal level. Your voice is most urgently needed in Florida, North Dakota, Texas, and Tennessee, which are currently the most aggressive states in these rollback efforts.
This year it is incredibly important that we all show up in force to show the world that being ourselves, or who we love doesn’t make us any less than any other human being. Go to a local PRIDE event to show your love and support.
Pour money into LGBTQ+ businesses year-round. Donate to nonprofits and other organizations doing this work.
Participate in your local politics around anti-gay legislation to ensure your state doesn’t take rights and protections away. Politicians pushing these bills are counting on disenfranchisement to keep us from actively participating in the political process. While it is essential to protect your mental and physical health, it’s also important we don’t become numb and so frustrated we stop taking action altogether.
Once you know what bills are currently being debated in your state, you can get started by finding your local state representative and reaching out to them.