February 25, 2020
4 ways to create more inclusive habits
To celebrate Mardi Gras this year, we are exploring ways that individuals can become more aware and more inclusive of people within the LGBTIQA+ community. Significant dates in the calendar like Mardi Gras are good opportunities to take stock of our understanding, assumptions and beliefs about different communities.
In this article, Brandon Srot, Counsellor, Leadership Coach and Facilitator, explains 4 ways you can create more inclusive habits.
1. Look within
We often don’t realise that we have grown up with or have developed over time, biases to particular individuals and groups. We can often judge others and make assumptions about them and their communities without actually knowing much about them or without having ever encountered them in a meaningful way.
The first step to becoming more inclusive is by looking within yourself; taking stock of and evaluating your own assumptions, biases and assessments about LGBTIQA+ people. What do you think about such people? How do you feel towards them? How do you hold the differences between you? What makes you uncomfortable?
By bringing awareness to your own internal judgements of others, you can then determine where your personal work resides in terms of aligning your own values and actions in the pursuit of inclusivity.
2. Avoid assumptions about people’s identities
Identity is a dynamic, colourful and exciting paradigm; and the same is true for sexuality and gender identities. Rather than assuming a person’s gender or sexuality identity based on their appearance, presentation or how you perceive them, become a bit more curious and ask them how they identify.
It is equally important to not make assumptions about the sexuality and/or gender identities of their loved ones. Replacing words such as “husband” or “wife” with “partner,” or “mother” or “father” with “parent” or “caregiver” creates a more inclusive spirit in the conversation.
3. Humanise the acronym, LGBTIQA+
Take time to engage in and listen to the life stories of people from the various parts of the rainbow community. One of the best ways to understand the plights of the rainbow community is by engaging in the real-world and lived experiences of those who inhabit the LGBTIQA+ community.
Learn from those within the community and let their stories be your teacher. And remember to adopt a spirit of curiosity rather than judgement. Ask questions, be mindful of your assumptions and take time to listen deeply to what’s being shared with you verbally and non-verbally.
4. Commit to learning and using people’s correct pronouns
The best way to know a person’s pronouns is by asking them. When correct pronouns are used, you demonstrate respect for the person/people before you; you demonstrate that you recognise their individuality and humanity and that you honour their identity.
The use of correct pronouns also indicates that this is a space in which the individual can show up fully as themselves; that they don’t need to edit or hide certain parts of themselves in your presence.