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LGBTQA & Social Justice Center

Pace Ally Wall

ALLY: a person who commits to work as an advocate for an oppressed group to which they may or may not belong.

An ally is a person who holds the belief that all persons should be treated equally and with dignity and respect. An ally works to end oppression in their personal and professional lives in many different ways.

Challenging Heterosexism and Homophobia-A Key to being an Ally

People are allies for many different reasons and have varying levels of comfort, experience, and knowledge about how heterosexim and homophobia effect us all. Accordingly, there are many different ways to be an Ally, and individuals will be at different stages in their growth as Allies to the LGBTQA Community.

A very important part of being an ally is being committed to challenge yourself to see beyond privilage, stereotypes and to recognize and work toward a shared vision that all individuals are deserving of equal rights, protection and the pursuit of happiness. A student at Pace once described Social Justice work as the act of "Making things right." In a sense being an ally is a continuing effort to support, promote and advocate for LGBTQ individuals as they deserve to be supported and advocated for. Allyship is the ongoing process to impact our communities and spaces in ways that combat oppression.

First, Educate & Empower Yourself

  • Understand your own feelings around LGBTQ Issues
  • Know your own history
  • Understand why you feel it is important to be an ally
  • Understand how heterosexism and homophobia effect us all
  • Confront prejudices, stereotypes and privillages
  • Model Positive language and inclusive behavior
  • Think about who is NOT represented in the spaces you occupy
  • Risk Discomfort and take risks to learn and grow as a person
  • Remember that there are people in your halls, classrooms, clubs, and jobs who are LGBT
  • Assume that there are LGBT, Questioning or CLoseted people in your school, office, and communities who may be wondering how safe the environment is. Provide safety by making it clear that LGBT individuals are welcome and supported.
  • Affirm LGBTQ identities OUT LOUD!
  • Critically consider media presentations of LGBT issues and consider the impact on the community
  • Challenge institutional, cultural, ideological and individual oppression
  • Explore internalized oppression

Ideas for Allies, What can I do?

A Starter List of Things You Can Do to Be Supportive, Confront Homophobia, and Resist Heterosexism

  • Refuse to tolerate anti-lesbian, -gay, or -bisexual comments, attitudes, remarks or jokes.
  • Ask others that any anti-lesbian, -gay, or -bisexual humor displayed in common areas be removed completely or placed within private office or living spaces.
  • Report all harassment or discriminatory behavior.
  • Display positive materials in support of people who are lesbian, gay, or bisexual. If possible, post flyers on activities, support groups, programs, and resources for people who are lesbian, gay, or bisexual.
  • Have available referral information for services which people who are lesbian, gay, or bisexual might need. Become familiar with resources, including literature, support groups, organizations, individuals, etc., in your area so you can refer people when appropriate.
  • Do not assume that everyone you meet is heterosexual.
  • Use inclusive, non-gender specific language that does not assume heterosexuality or gender conformity in others. Use inclusive language in conversation and also in written materials, policies, forms, etc.
  • Educate yourself on issues and concerns for people who are lesbian, gay, or bisexual. Take the initiative to obtain accurate information.
  • Attend events, meetings, or programs sponsored by or for people who are lesbian, gay, or bisexual. Create your own programs around LGBTQ topics.
  • Gain insight by talking to people who are lesbian, gay, or bisexual. Learn from their experiences.
  • Join a Queer-focused list serve, discussion group, or organization.
  • Check out LGBTQ Focused Websites, news, books, magazines, films and other resources.
  • Don't make assumptions and ask about things that you don't understand. Talk with an learn from LGBT friends classmates, and colleagues.
  • Take an LGBT studies course, workshop or attend a conference or symposium on LGBT topics. Suggest such courses and workshops for folks in your area.
  • Use inclusive language like "Partner" or "date." Do not assume every biological female has a boyfriend/husband. Do not assume every biological male has a girlfriend or husband.
  • Don't out people unless given permission to do so.
  • Talk with friends informally and openly about LGBT events or issues in the news, on TV shows and in movies.
  • Do a program in your residence halls on LGBT issues. Discuss the No Tolerance Discrimination Procedures of your institutions as well as the process in the event of a grievance. Be open, direct and serious when discussing the discrimination policies and consequences.
  • Interrupt, confront or react to heterosexist, homophobic, transphobic or biphobic jokes, slurs, comments, or assumptions--this can be done in private or in public. Assess your safety first. Always remember you do not know who may be offended by these jokes.
  • Provide correct information when you hear myths and misrepresentations of LGBT people.
  • Learn about LGBT signs and symbols! Wear an ally button or bracelet.
  • Sign relevant petetions. Consider legal injustices. Advocate for Equality. Vote for pro-LGBT candidates. Post affirming LGBTQ signs. Go to Pride Parades! Speak to your family and friends. Assess the climate in various environments in your life.
  • Maintain a balanced perspective. Don’t assume that the sexual orientation of a person who is lesbian, gay, or bisexual is the most important aspect of that person. Remember that everyone is a multi-faceted individual whose sexuality is only one part of their total life.
  • Don’t assume that being lesbian, gay, or bisexual is so hard and presents so many problems that you should feel sorry for people who are lesbian, gay, or bisexual. They have the same problems as anyone else. They are just as likely to be well-adjusted, and just as likely to have difficulty coping with stresses in their lives. Because of prejudice and discrimination, however, they have to deal with some unique stressors.
  • Don’t assume that being lesbian, gay, or bisexual doesn’t matter; for example, thinking that “They’re the same as everyone else and I treat all people the same.” While everyone deserves to be treated equally, that is different from treating everyone the same. The experience of being lesbian, gay, or bisexual in a largely unaccepting society has a profound effect on how that person views himself or herself and how he or she experiences the world.
  • Respect confidentiality at all times. It is imperative that you can be trusted.
  • Examine your own biases and fears. You must explore your deepest feelings and beliefs concerning homosexuality. If you are uncomfortable with the issue, this will be communicated to others. Your ability to be open and accepting will be limited by unexamined beliefs and attitudes. Be willing to look at the areas with which you are uncomfortable. Be willing to talk about your doubts, fears, and uncertainties with others, so that you can address them.
  • Know your own limits. There may be times when an individual’s needs or concerns are beyond your ability to help them. Know when you have reached the extent of your knowledge or patience and be prepared to seek out others with additional knowledge or expertise for assistance.
  • Don’t be surprised when someone comes out to you.
  • Deal with feelings first. You can be helpful just by listening and providing someone a chance to talk about their feelings and their experience.

What can I do at Pace?

  • Join the LGBTQA Task Force. An organization of students, staff, faculty and alumni dedicated toward making positive change on and off campus for LGBTQA Individuals.
  • Attend LGBTQA Related events and programs.
  • Join or support the Stonewall Coalition: the Student organization of LGBTQ and ally students.
  • Sign up to be Safe Zone Trained. Recomend that your office, club or organization recieve Safe Zone Training.
  • Speak up against discrimination. Report discrimination to the Affirmative Action Office. Remember Pace's No Discrimination Policy!
  • Take LGBTQ Courses. Support LGBTQA courses.
  • Donate to help sustain and nurture LGBTQA programs, resources and education at Pace.
  • Display positive LGBTQA materials in your campus spaces.
  • Promote LGBTQA Student Support Services such as the LGBTQA & Social Justice Center.
  • Discuss LGBTQ issues with staff.
  • Assess office, club, organization practices to ensure they are affirming.
  • Create spaces and times for dialogues on issues relating to diversity.
  • Advocate for the rights of LGBT individuals.
  • Support Gender Neutral Housing and Unisex Bathroom Initiatives.