Being an Ally for LGBT Students, Faculty, and Staff
Check out UT's Safe Zone program
Safe Zone is a voluntary network of faculty, staff and students who believe that every member of the UT community should have an equal opportunity to grow and learn in safe and open environments. Participant
display a Safe Zone symbol to demonstrate their nurturance and commitment to celebrating the invaluable contributions of LGBT individuals and communities.
The Four Basic Levels of Becoming an Ally
- Awareness: Explore how you are different from and similar to gay, lesbian and bisexual people. Gain this awareness through talking with gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people, by
attending workshops, and through self-examination.
- Knowledge/Education: Begin to understand policies, laws and practices and how they affect gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people. Educate yourself on the many communities and cultures
of gay, lesbian and bisexual people.
- Skills: This is an area that 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.
- Action: This is the most important and frightening step. Despite the fear, action is the only way to cause change.
Four Other Points to Keep in Mind
- Have a good understanding of sexual orientation and be comfortable with your own.
- Be aware of the coming-out process and realize that it is not a one-time event. The coming-out process is unique to gay, lesbian and bisexual, and transgender people and brings challenges that are not often
- Understand that gay, lesbian and bisexual people receive the same message about homosexuality and bisexuality as everyone else. Thus gay, lesbian and bisexual, and transgender people suffer from
internalized homophobia and heterosexism. It is important to recognize the risks of coming out and to challenge the internal oppression.
- Remember that gay, lesbian and bisexual people are a diverse group. Each community within the larger gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender community has unique needs and goals.
An Ideal Ally is Someone Who...
- Uses gender neutral terms, such as partner or significant other, instead of gender specific terms like boy/girl friend
- Chooses to take a position in support of human rights for LGBT individuals w/out first identifying as, "I'm straight, but..."
- Avoids expecting an LGBT individual to speak for LBGT communities
- Doesn't assume
- Treats partners of LGBT friends the same as they would a straight friend's partner
- Doesn't think of people as 'my gay student' or 'my lesbian friend'
- Objects to homophobic jokes in all situations
- Doesn't tolerate and confronts homophobic comments
- Understands the basics of LGBT issues but is not afraid to ask questions
- Points out when a historical figure or author is LGBT and doesn't dismiss LGBT content in literature
- Avoids stereotypes and makes clear that stereotypes don't represent the entire LGBT community
- Commits to understanding the needs of LGBT individuals and communities and the heterosexism they endure
- Identifies and celebrates historical contributions of LGBT identified individuals, communities, and movements
- Can articulate how patterns of institutionalized oppression disenfranchise LGBT individuals
- Pursues knowledge about current policies and legislation affecting LGBT individuals
- Understands that coming out is a lifelong process that demands support and celebration
- Speaks about the systemic inequities LGBT individuals face institutionally
- Acknowledges her/his/hir responsibility for cultivating and producing safe and inclusive environments institutionally, politically, and socially for LGBT individuals
- Promotes coalition building with LGBT communities
- Teaches others the importance of outreach
- Celebrates successes in LGBT communities
- Works to take action whenever possible in support of human rights for LGBT individuals