9 LGBTQ+ discriminatory terms to avoid in the workplace

How to better support LGBTQ+ colleagues all year round

It’s important to create a respectful and inclusive workplace environment for all employees, including those who identify as LGBTQ+.

As LGBTQ+ history month draws to a close for another year, here is a reminder of how to be respectful to your queer colleagues at work.

Here are 9 LGBTQ+ discriminatory terms to avoid in the workplace:

  1. “Homosexual” – This term is considered clinical and outdated. Instead, use “gay” or “lesbian” to refer to someone’s sexual orientation.
  2. “Tranny” – This term is considered offensive and derogatory towards transgender people. Instead, use “transgender” or “trans” as appropriate.
  3. “She-male” or “he-she” – These terms are considered offensive and dehumanising towards transgender people. Avoid using them altogether.
  4. “Gay lifestyle” – This term implies that being gay is a choice and suggests that there is a specific way that all gay people live. Instead, use “gay culture” or “gay community” if appropriate.
  5. “Preferred pronouns” – The word “preferred” suggests that using someone’s correct pronouns is optional, when in fact, it is a matter of respect and dignity. Instead, use “correct” or “appropriate” pronouns.
  6. “Hermaphrodite” – This term is considered outdated and stigmatising. Instead, use “intersex” to refer to someone born with ambiguous genitalia or reproductive organs.
  7. “Bisexuals are greedy” – This stereotype is hurtful and promotes bi-phobia. Avoid using it and recognise bisexuality as a valid sexual orientation.
  8. “Gay agenda” – This term implies that there is a specific plan or goal that all LGBTQ+ people are working towards. Instead, use “LGBTQ+ rights” or “LGBTQ+ advocacy” if appropriate.
  9. “It” – This dehumanising pronoun should never be used to refer to an individual, regardless of gender identity or expression. Instead, use their correct pronouns or use their name.

Remember, language is powerful, and using respectful and inclusive language in the workplace can make a significant difference in creating a safe and welcoming environment for all employees.

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