At ICADV, we often talk about the importance of safe, stable and nurturing environments in creating healthy and connected communities where violence isn’t seen as an easy or appropriate choice. A key part of creating these sorts of environments and communities is inclusivity.
We all have a role to play in creating more inclusive and welcoming environments so that everyone feels safe to be their whole and authentic selves. Here are some ideas for how you can create a more welcoming and inclusive environment for LGBTQ+ individuals:
Know General Definitions: When talking about gender and sexual orientation, many people want to use correct terminology, but don’t have useful definitions. This is especially true when discussing gender. Remember that people use different criteria for identifying these groups and that no one can assume another’s identity-based on these definitions. This trans inclusivity dictionary is a good place to start.
Don’t Make Assumptions: Lesbian, gay, bisexual, nonbinary and transgender people come in all sizes, abilities, colors, styles, political persuasions, religious affiliations, cultural backgrounds, relationship statuses, educational histories and ages. Similarly, there is a wide range of pronouns individuals may use. Always ask instead of assuming what an individual’s preferred pronouns are.
Create inclusive environments: Share your pronouns at the beginning of meetings and/or in your digital correspondence and ask others for theirs. Offer gender-neutral restroom facilities if at all possible. This may look like labeling them based on what amenities they offer rather than Men’s/Women’s Room. (e.g. “Restroom with Menstrual Products” and “Restroom with Urinals”).
Use inclusive language: Using inclusive language means talking in a way that does not specify a gender, sex, or sexual orientation unless it is pertinent to the comment. For example, using gender-neutral words like “partner” or “significant other” instead of specifying “husband/wife.” Use the singular “they” in place of “him/her” when making general statements in your writing and speech (this is now widely recognized as grammatically correct).
Confront comments that are heterosexist or gender identity biased when you hear them: Once you are educated about LGBTQ+ people, step in and educate others. Respond when you hear others using non-inclusive language, making derogatory jokes, using incorrect assumptions/stereotypes, misgendering an individual who has shared their pronouns, voicing misinformation, etc.
The LGBTQ+ Community and Domestic Violence
In the past, the domestic violence awareness movement has focused largely on heterosexual relationships, and members of the LGBTQ community may have been left out.
Recent research shows that LGBTQ+ members experience domestic violence at equal or even higher rates compared to their heterosexual counterparts. We recognize certain stigma and gender constructs may have prevented survivors from using the services we provide. In a study of male same-sex relationships, only 26 percent of men called the police for assistance after experiencing near-lethal violence. Fewer than 5 percent of LGBTQ+ survivors sought protective orders in 2012.
We hope to change the narrative so that all survivors feel that they are guaranteed protection when they seek help related to intimate partner violence. Indiana’s Domestic Violence Programs are here to help, regardless of your sexual orientation or gender identity.
Learn more about your legal rights as an LGBTQ+ survivor from the American Bar Association
Click here for a list of domestic violence programs in Indiana.
Click here for a list of additional resources for the LGBTQ+ Community in Indiana.