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Issues & Advice
Coming Out
page.gif (79 bytes)Colleagues
Coming Out
Supporting Your Gay/Lesbian Colleagues
by Cathy Collett

1. Take the opportunity to know a gay friend. Be aware of colleagues who might be lesbian and provide an atmosphere for sharing. Ask questions about their life that would indicate your openness to hearing about a gay/lesbian culture.

2. Make an effort to ensure your library or resource materials include
both a heterosexual and homosexual perspective on various issues i.e. special issues in counseling lesbian /gay people, Review material to ensure that there is a gay/lesbian positive perspective. If unsure about the material, ask your local gay/lesbian community association.

3. Support the formation of gay/lesbian caucuses within professional
associations. e.g. Lesbian/Gay Caucus within OAPSW, OMA, ORNA etc

4. Support the inclusion of protection against discrimination of
homosexuals in your workplace by having this clause in your union contract

5. Develop an awareness of the broader issues of discrimination i.e.
pensions, exclusion from Section 15, Charter of Rights and publicly
support these causes, individually & collectively.

6. Encourage staff training in working with gay men & lesbians

7. Become aware of resources in the gay/lesbian community & use these resources in working with clients & co-workers.

8. Support the inclusion of a gay/lesbian presence at all
professional conferences i.e. workshops, addressing issues from
heterosexual/homosexual perspectives

9. In team meetings in the workplace, take opportunities to present a case regarding a gay or lesbian client. Many services assume that there are no gay/lesbian clients and presentations will help to dispel this myth. Again, be sure the case is presented with a lesbian/gay positive perspective.

10. Combat homophobia (fear of gays & lesbians) in your daily life by
speaking up when negative comments are made about gays/lesbians. Every unchallenged negative comment about gays/lesbians perpetuates this prejudice.

Supporting a gay/lesbian colleague does have implications for co-workers. Assumptions are made on the basis of who supports what issues and fellow workers run the risk of being questioned about their own sexual orientation. Nevertheless, nothing will change for all members of society unless we support our gay/lesbian colleagues in the workplace.

Finally, we need to ask ourselves whether a service which does not provide a supportive atmosphere for gay/lesbian workers could provide appropriate services for gay/lesbian clients.

Related Links
C O A S OUT! Excellent site on 'coming out and staying out!' go!
They said...
I have half a mind to get married - and that's all I need. (Bob Phillips)