Promote inclusion by being an ally

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Promote inclusion by being an ally

What is an ally, in the context of diversity and inclusion?

An ally is someone who does not belong to a group but who, nonetheless, takes an active stance in support of people if they are being marginalized or unfairly treated. Being a gender ally might mean that a man champions gender equity in his workplace because he believes in human rights and the equal treatment of all peoples.

Being an ally also means speaking up when discriminatory or dehumanizing attitudes are directed at others in order to show that we reject exclusionary premises even when we might not feel personally attacked.

What does all this have to do with Bruce Jenner? Like many celebrities, Jenner’s story has become a testing ground for Americans’ commitments to diversity and of our collective assumptions.

This piece on the Human Rights Campaign website encourages people– whether or not they self-identify as transgender– to resist hurtful reactions to Jenner’s story. It links to a number of excellent resources.

Here are some pointers about how to be a good ally to people who are “coming out”:

*   Don’t forget that, even though they may live in the spotlight, celebrities are still people and should merit basic respect and civility.

*   Disrespectful attitudes and discriminatory jokes harm everyone by creating cultural environments focused on negativity.

*  Our assumptions about people are often wrong.

You may not think you know anyone at work who is transgender  or who has a transgender loved one, but you could very well be wrong. Many trans people choose not to reveal their gender identity or history for fear of being fired or harassed — or even being endangered.  Parents, friends and family members may also hesitate to speak up for similar reasons. Think of the difference you could make supporting the mom of a trans teen who feels she can’t talk about her child at work, or a trans colleague who has yet to feel safe enough to bring their full self to work.

*  Do the research and become familiar with the realities of transgender communities as described by members of that community.  (And, even if you continue to feel uncomfortable with some concepts or experiences that are new to you, return to the basics and treat all people with respect, regardless.)

*  Start respectful conversations when possible and if they are welcomed. Understand that your need to prove that you are an ally is not as important as acting like an ally by following the lead of the persons you want to support.

Read the entire blog post here.

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