for Straight Allies
Be a listener.
Be willing to talk.
Be inclusive and invite LGBT friends
to hang out with your friends and family.
Don't assume that all your friends and
acquaintances are straight. Someone close to you could be
looking for support in their coming-out process. Not making
assumptions will give them the space they need.
Homophobic comments and jokes are
harmful. Let your friends, family and co-workers know that
you find them offensive.
Be open about having gay friends, family or acquaintances
that you value, respect, and are grateful to have in your
life. When you talk about them, don’t omit the fact that
they are GLBT.
Call, write, e-mail, or visit public policy makers and let
them know that as a straight person who votes, you support
laws that extend equal rights and protections to all people.
Believe that all people, regardless of gender identity and
sexual orientation, should be treated with dignity and
Become informed about the realities, challenges and issues
affecting the lives of gay, lesbian, bisexual and
transgender (GLBT) people’s lives through websites, books,
documentaries, and educational materials.
Use the words “gay” and “lesbian” instead of “homosexual.”
The overwhelming majority of gays and lesbians do not
identify with or use the word “homosexual” to describe
Use non-gender specific language. Ask “Are you seeing
someone?” or “Are you in a committed relationship?,” instead
of “Do you have a boyfriend/girlfriend?” Use the word
“partner” or “significant other” instead of
Give visibility to LGBT issues, concerns and experiences in
your family, school, workplace, religious community, and
neighborhood. You can show your support by posting signs in
your room or workplace and even on networking website.
Adapted from http://community.pflag.org/Page.aspx?pid=613,
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The Four Basic Levels of Becoming an Ally
1. Awareness: Explore how you are different from and similar to
LGBT people. Gain this awareness through talking with LGBT
people, attending workshops and self-examination.
2. Knowledge/Education: Begin to understand policies, laws and
practices and how they affect gay, lesbian and bisexual people.
Educate yourself on the many communities and cultures of LGBT
3. Skills: This is an area which is difficult for many people.
You must learn to take your
awareness and knowledge and communicate it to others. You can
acquire these skills by attending workshops, role-playing with
friends or peers, and developing support connections.
4. Action: This is the most important and frightening step.
Despite the fear, action is the only way to effect change in the
society as a whole.
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Five Important Points to Keep in Mind
as an Ally
1. Have a good understanding of sexual orientation and be
comfortable with your own.
2. Be aware of the coming-out process and realize that it is not
a one-time event. The coming out process is unique to LGBT
people and brings challenges that are not often understood.
3. Understand that LGBT people receive the same message about
sexual identity as everyone else. Thus LGBT people
suffer from internalized homophobia and heterosexism. It is
important to recognize the risks of coming out and to challenge
the internal oppression.
4. Remember that LGBT people are a diverse group. Each community
within the larger LGBT community has unique needs and goals.
5. Know at least basic information about HIV/AIDS in order to
address myths and misinformation and to be supportive of those
affected by this disease whether in themselves or in partners
and friends. While HIV/AIDS is a health issue for all, those who
live with the most fear and have lost the most members of their
community are LGBT persons.
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What Is Heterosexual Privilege?
Living without ever having to think twice, face, confront,
engage, or cope with anything on this page. Heterosexuals can
address these phenomena by social/political forces do not
require you to do so.
Legal marriage includes the following privileges:
Public recognition and support for an intimate relationship
Celebration of your commitment to another with gifts, cards,
and congratulations from others
Supported activities and social expectations of longevity
and stability for your committed relationships
Paid leave from employment and condolences when grieving the
death of your partner/lover (i.e. legal members defined by
marriage and descendants from marriages)
Inheriting from your partner/lover/companion automatically
under probate laws
Sharing health, auto, and homeowners' insurance policies at
Immediate access to your loved ones in cases of accident or
Family-of-origin support for a life partner/lover/companion
Increased possibilities for getting a job, receiving on the
job training and promotion
Kissing/hugging/being affectionate in public without threat
Talking about your relationship or what projects, vacations,
family planning you and your partner/lover are creating
Not questioning your normalcy, sexually and culturally
Expressing pain when a relationship ends and having other
people notice and attend to your pain
Adopting children, foster-parenting children
Being employed as a teacher in pre-school through high
school without fear of being fired any day because you are
assumed to corrupt children
Raising children without threats of state intervention,
without children having to be worried which of their friends
might reject them because of their parent's sexuality and
Dating the person of your desire in your teen years
Living with your partner and doing so openly to all
Receiving validation from your religious community
Receiving social acceptance by neighbors, colleagues, new
Not having to hide and lie about same-sex social events
Working without always being identified by your
sexuality/culture (e.g. you get to be a farmer, brick layer,
artist, etc. without being labeled the heterosexual farmer,
the heterosexual teacher)
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What Is Homophobia/Biphobia/Transphobia?
Homophobia/biphobia/transphobia takes many different forms,
including physical acts of hate, violence, verbal assault,
vandalism or blatant discrimination such as firing an employee,
evicting someone from their housing or denying them access to
public accommodations. There are many other kinds of
homophobia/biphobia/transphobia and heterosexism that happen
every day. We often overlook these more subtle actions and
exclusions because they seem so insignificant by comparison.
They are not.
Looking at an LGBT person and automatically thinking of her/his
sexuality or gender rather than seeing her/him as a whole,
Failing to be supportive when your LGBT friend is sad about a
quarrel or breakup.
Changing your seat in a meeting because an LGBT person sat in
the chair next to yours.
Thinking you can spot one.
Using the terms "lesbian" or "gay" as accusatory.
Not asking about a woman's female lover or a man's male lover
although you regularly ask "How is your husband/wife?" when you
run into a heterosexual friend.
Thinking that a lesbian (if you are female) or gay man (if you
are male) is making sexual advances if she/he touches you.
Feeling repulsed by public displays of affection between
lesbians and gay men but accepting the same affectional displays
Feeling that LGBT people are too outspoken about civil rights.
Feeling that discussions about homophobia are not necessary
since you are "okay" on these issues.
Assuming that everyone you meet is heterosexual.
Feeling that a lesbian is just a woman who couldn't find a man
or that a lesbian is a woman who wants to be a man.
Feeling that a gay man is just a man who couldn't find a woman
or that a gay man is a man who wants to be a woman.
Not confronting a homophobic remark for fear of being identified
with or as LGBT.
Worrying about the effect an LGBT volunteer/co-worker will have
on your work or your clients.
Asking your LGBT colleagues to speak about LGBT issues, but not
about other issues about which they may be knowledgeable.
Focusing exclusively on someone's sexual orientation and not on
other issues of concern.
Being afraid to ask questions about LGBT issues when you don't
know the answers.
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Suggestions for Creating a Non-Homophobic Campus Environment
Object to and eliminate jokes and humor that put down or portray
LGBT people in stereotypical ways.
Counter statements about sexual orientation or gender identity
that are not relevant to decisions or evaluations being made
about faculty, staff, or students.
Invite "out" professionals to conduct seminars and provide guest
lectures in your classes and offices. Invite them for both LGBT
topics and other topics of their expertise.
Do not force LGBT people out of the closet nor come out for them
to others. The process of coming out is one of enlarging a
series of concentric circles of those who know. Initially the
process should be in control of the individual until (and if)
they consider it public knowledge.
Don't include sexual orientation information in letters of
reference or answer specific or implied questions without first
clarifying how "out" the person chooses to be in the specific
process in question. Because your environment may be safe does
not mean that all environments are safe.
Recruit and hire "out' LGBT staff and faculty. View sexual
orientation as a positive form of diversity that is desired in a
multicultural setting. Always question job applicants about
their ability to work with LGBT faculty, staff, and students.
Do not refer all LGBT issues to LGBT staff/faculty. Do not
assume their only expertise is LGBT issues. Check with staff
about their willingness to consult on LGBT issues with other
Be sensitive to issues of oppression and appreciate the strength
and struggle it takes to establish a positive LGBT identity.
Provide nurturing support to colleagues and students in phases
of that process.
Be prepared. If you truly establish a safe and supportive
environment, people that you never thought of will begin to
share their personal lives and come out in varying degrees.
Secretaries, maintenance personnel, former students, and
professional colleagues will respond to the new atmosphere. Ten
percent is a lot of people.
View the creation of this environment as a departmental or
agency responsibility, not the responsibility of individual
persons who happen to be LGBT. Always waiting for them to speak,
challenge, or act, adds an extra level of responsibility to
someone who is already dealing with oppression on many levels.
Adapted by Buhrke & Douce, 1991.
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Citation: Adapted from American College Health Association
college Students in High-Risk Situations CDC/ACHA Cooperative
Agreement #97065, July 2000.