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Help others by becoming an ‘ally’

What is an ally?

A person who believes that lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or questioning (LGBTQ) people should experience full equality in society can be described as an ‘ally’. They recognise that LGBTQ people should be allowed to be themselves and they try to create an inclusive culture where this can happen.

Allies can be anyone. They might be another young person, a parent, a sibling, a teacher, a learning mentor, a youth worker, someone at the very top of an organisation or a colleague in a team.

In the past, the word ‘ally’ has typically been used to refer someone who is heterosexual/straight. However, more recently it has started being used for people of all sexual orientations and gender identities.

Becoming an ally

There are lots of things you can do to be an ally. As a student, it could mean challenging homophobic, bi-phobic or transphobic banter among friends, or telling a teacher or safe person if someone is being bullied because of their sexual or gender identity.

Among school staff, it could mean prioritising equality for LGBTQ students and ensuring it is everyone’s responsibility to create an inclusive environment.

If you think you’d like to become an ally, this advice may help.

  1. Get to know the issues
    Take time to speak with LGBTQ people and find out how they think things could be improved. You might feel worried about saying the wrong thing, but if you ask with respect and a positive attitude you’ll find that most LGBTQ people are happy to answer questions about their lives and experiences.
  2. Offer support
    Some people who are LGBTQ may be struggling with issues related to their sexual orientation or gender identity. Make time to listen to their concerns. Where it’s appropriate and you feel able to, offer them emotional and practical support.
  3. Make it personal
    If you have family members, friends or colleagues who are LGBTQ, telling others about their experiences can help them understand why it’s important to support equality. Remember though – before sharing any personal information about other people you should always ask their permission.
  4. Speak out and take action
    Speak out about LGBTQ issues among your family and friends, and in your school and community. Look for opportunities to get involved with support groups and charities. Show your support by attending events such as the Pride festival.
  5. Be yourself
    There’s no right or wrong way to be an ally. Just be yourself and people will see that you support LGBTQ equality  because you want to, not because you have to. If you are not LGBTQ, it can help to ask yourself how you would like to be treated if you were.

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