Responding to Intolerance

At the heart of LGBTIQ intolerance in America is a fundamental ignorance about these groups, fueled by damaging stereotypes due to their non-conformity to traditional gender roles in society. Although as a manager you may or may not be exposed to some of the politics of these issues, the misconceptions at the root of them are a familiar experience in most workplaces. Anti-gay remarks, jokes, or unkind comments are symptoms of these misconceptions and/or intolerance, and they may be construed as discrimination by those at the receiving end of them. It is up to you as a manager to set the tone for how these comments are countered in order to create an inclusive and affirming environment for your LGBTIQ employees, especially since they are often an invisible minority.

Suggest some ways in which you would professionally respond to the following intolerant or ignorant statements overheard by you in your employee lounge, in order to model inclusiveness and awareness. Choose one statement to respond to for your initial post.

  • “That’s so gay!” Reference to something stupid done by another employee.
  • “You look butch.” Reference to a female employee with short hair.
  • “So-and-so is an IT.” Reference to an intersex employee.
  • “We don’t serve those people here.” Reference to LGBTI clients.
  • “People who are LGBT are sinners.”Spoken by a very religious employee with some influence in the workplace.
  • “I refuse to let so-and-so use the women’s restroom – she’s still a he!” Reference to a post-op transsexual employee.