What does LGBT stand for?
A lot of heterosexual people are unsure of what LGBT stands for, so here it is: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trans. Trans is the umbrella term for transsexual, transgender and transvestite. There are people who identify as Queer or Pansexual, some who would never use those phrases to describe themselves. Some people prefer to not any words at all.
The same, but different
LGBT people look just like you. We come from all races, ages, abilities, cultures and religious beliefs. LGBT people deserve the same rights and respect at work that heterosexual people enjoy. However we are far more likely than heterosexual staff to experience harassment and discrimination because of our sexual orientation and gender identity. We need a responsive union to support us if trouble arises, just as you do, but we also need our heterosexual union members to be our allies too.
You may not identify as LGBT, but you can be an ally to us by supporting your LGBT colleagues. You may be heterosexual, but statistically speaking, there’s a good chance that someone you know at work is Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual or Trans. If someone makes a nasty comment, don’t ignore it; just because it doesn’t directly affect you, it will still have an impact on your working life. Lack of morale, staff leaving due to bullying and harassment, and a poor general work atmosphere affects everyone.
There are fun times too!
Unison usually has a big presence at London Pride, and Black LGBT Pride too. Both of these events take place in the summer, and can be a great free day out if you volunteer on a stall. Many heterosexual relatives and friends of LGBT people help out on these days. They can be a positive, fun experience for everyone, no matter how they identify. Unison also has a presence at BiCon, a weekend-long convention and conference for bisexuals. If you want to get involved, or learn more about these events, please contact me.