How to be an LGBTQ+ Ally
Did you know that Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer/Questioning (LGBTQ) individuals experience dating violence at the same rates and in similar ways as people in straight relationships? (WOW, that's a mouthful!) What does that mean? It means that dating violence can happen to anyone, and it's important to be a strong ally to LGBTQ friends who are in an unhealthy relationship. The ways in which you can support a friend are similar. However, there are some things to keep in mind as an ally:
Be open-minded & a respectful listener: Remember that LGBTQ people often deal with discrimination and judgment. You can be a good friend by listening and being nonjudgmental. Ask open ended questions, but remember to be supportive and not ask questions just because you're curious.
Be inclusive: Do not assume that all your friends are straight. For example, do not assume that someone’s boyfriend or girlfriend is of the opposite sex. Not making assumptions will make them feel safe and supported. Invite your LGBTQ friends to hang out with your friends and family.
Confront your own prejudices and bias: Treat all people, regardless of gender identity and sexual orientation, with dignity and respect. If you feel uncomfortable with something, ask yourself why that is and how you can be a more supportive friend. Let your friends, family, and co-workers know that you find anti-LGBTQ comments and jokes offensive. Defend your LGBTQ friends against discrimination!
Respect pronouns: Always use preferred pronouns. If someone tells you that they prefer to be called him or her, always use that pronoun. If you are ever unsure what someone prefers, use "them" or "they" to be inclusive.
Resources: The Teen Alert Program is an inclusive agency that is supportive of all clients experiencing dating violence. Our Teen Advocate is trained to support LGBTQ teens. If you or someone you know needs help, please contact us at 808-531-3771 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. See below to learn common definitions and terms!
Biological Sex: Either male or female, primarily assigned at birth, based on reproductive function, genitalia, and chromosomes
Gender Identity: One’s internal, deeply-held sense of being female, male, or somewhere in between. Everyone has a gender identity.
Gender Roles: Social and behavioral stereotypes for how men and women are expected to act. For example - Men are dominant and women submissive.
Transgender: People (or trans people) are people whose gender identity is different from the sex they were assigned at birth. Transgender women are people who were assigned male at birth and identify as female. Transgender men are people who were assigned female at birth and identify as male.
Transition / Transitioning / Transitioned: The process when a transgender person takes steps to start living as the other gender they identify as; may or may not include medical, and/or surgical interventions
Sexual Orientation: A person’s emotional, romantic, and sexual attraction to another person
Gay: A person who is emotionally, romantically, and sexual attracted to individuals of the same sex; a term used for men and women
Lesbian: A female person who is emotionally, romantically, and sexually attracted to other females
Bisexual: A person who is emotionally, romantically, and sexually attracted to men and women
Intersex: A person born with external genitalia, internal reproductive organs, and/or chromosome patterns that do not fit typical structure of males or females; appears of ambiguous sexuality
In the Closet: Keeping one’s sexual orientation and/or gender identity private or a secret. Coming out of the closet refers to disclosing one’s sexual orientation or gender identity to another or others.
Queer: A more recent term that has been adopted as an identifier by youth (and some adults) that may refer to one’s sexual orientation or gender identity
Questioning: Refers to individuals who are unsure of their sexual orientation and/or gender identity
Homophobia: A fear of or prejudice of gay, lesbian, or bisexual people
Transphobia: A fear of or prejudice of transgender or other gender identities
Heterosexism: Discrimination against homosexuals on the assumption that heterosexuality is the “normal” sexual orientation1,2