Thursday, August 14, 2014

LGBT employees: what not to ask

DiversityInc -- a website that seems to aspire to give businesses advice on how to manage "diversity" -- has published a list of "6 things not to say to LGBT employees."

I'm feeling snarky, so here's a lifelong lesbian's commentary. I am fortunate in for a very long time not having needed to worry about what an employer thought about my sexuality or gender presentation. The list isn't terrible, but it begs for plain speaking.
  • 1. “Wow. I never would have guessed that you’re [gay, lesbian, bi, or transgender]! The recipient of this remark will either think you are dumb as a post or abysmally rude. Or both.
  • 2. “Is one of you the husband and one the wife? I don’t get it.” I'm going to confess I'm tolerant of this one (if the questioner didn't have power over me.) I almost find it endearing. When people really don't know anything about gay people, I suspect this is what goes on underneath all the other cultural baggage. Better to out with it and then we can learn about each other from there.
  • 3. To a transgender person: “What’s your real name? What did you used to look like?” More rudeness. The person's real name is what they tell you it is. They are who they are. None of your damn business.
  • 4. “Your lifestyle is your business. We don’t need to talk about it here.” This one means that I make the speaker nervous. Get over it.
  • 5. “It’s too bad you’re gay.” "It is too bad you are straight." How do you like that question?
  • 6. “I have a friend who’s [gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender] that you should meet.” Oh for goodness sake ... that's akin to the question I've sometimes gotten while traveling in far away places: "what's the weather like in the United States?"

    I may, or may not, have something in common with another gay person -- the permutations are close to endless and may or may not have anything to do with our both being gay.
We're just people.

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