By: Zachary Kashman | SADD National Student Leadership Council Alumni
This month is LGBTQ+ Pride Month. Many members of SADD, our peers, and the communities we serve consider themselves to be a part LGBTQ+ community. A common question asked is, “how can I be an ally?”
As members of SADD, we work to better our communities through peer-to-peer education on a variety of issues. Working with SADD means we often will interact with people of different backgrounds from our own. The health, safety, and wellness of our peers and community members are often achieved through coming from a place of empathy. Being an ally to the LGBTQ+ community as a SADD member and on an individual level allows you to come from a place of compassion when interacting with people of differing identities. For resources and support, visit The Trevor Project!
Who is an Ally?
Anyone can be an ally to the LBGTQ+ community. Being an ally is not just about celebrating pride month, buying rainbow gear, or putting an infographic up on an Instagram story. An ally is a person who supports and advocates for the fair treatment of LGBTQ+ people. An ally speaks up when they see discrimination or hear something offensive. When you choose to use your voice as an ally you can educate others and change how people think creating a positive change of thought.
Being an ally can come down to being inclusive, open-minded, and listening to your LGBTQ+ peers. When working with others do not assume everyone you interact with is straight. Someone close to you may be in the process of coming out or beginning to realize their own identity. Not making assumptions and creating an accepting environment allows those around you to take the time they need.
How to be Respectful
As an ally, it is okay to not know all LGBTQ+-related news/issues and it is important to recognize that you do not know all the answers when talking to your peers. Do not be afraid to research concepts you do not know or have conversations from a point of curiosity, not judgment.
Learning LGBTQ+ vocabulary can be daunting but google is your friend. For example, understanding someone’s gender identity as a trans or gender fluid person can go a long way. If the terms a person uses to describe their identity are confusing or you do not know the word take the time to research the terminology. Just because a member of the LGBTQ+ community tells you their identity does not mean they want to or are in an appropriate place to educate you on those descriptors. In these cases, the internet should be used to answer all your questions.
Doing simple things like respecting a person’s preferred pronouns can show that you care about what makes them comfortable and their identity.
If someone chooses to come out to you it is their story to tell. It takes a lot of courage to come out. As an ally be proud that they chose to talk to you about an important and personal part of their life. Do not assume because they came out to you that it is a free pass to share that information with other people.
An ally understands that all people, regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity, deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. As SADD members and allies to the LGBTQ+ community, we can come together to better serve our communities to create a true impact. Coming from a place of empathy, curiosity, and care for others will help guide the journey to positive actionable change.