What’s the idea?
Across the world, many people in the LGBTQ community still experience discrimination and bullying. Here’s how you can help and support them.
What’s the story?
I’ve seen first-hand the struggles that people in the LGBTQ community face daily.
A childhood friend’s gay brother was bullied so bad that he had to change schools.
One of my best friends also came out as gay in his early twenties and faced a lot of judgment and discrimination from friends and colleagues.
Since this month (June) is designed as Pride Month, I thought it would be great for people to learn how they can support friends and family in the LGBT community.
People should do this because…?
Most people know someone who is part of the LGBTQ community.
It’s good to know how to support and help them when they’re facing discrimination and bullying and even how to be an advocate of LGBTQ rights.
How do you do it?
Often you might not even realize that someone is facing bullying or discrimination.
So the first step would be how to identify if someone is being bullied.
Signs that someone is being bullied or discriminated against
- Increased anxiety, stress and depression
- Acting distant with friends and family or breaking off close relationships
- Disinterest in hobbies or activities they used to love
- Decreased self-confidence and happiness
- Physical symptoms like headaches, body aches and sleep problems
- Destructive behaviour such as fighting with loved ones over small issues, becoming violent or even self-harm
- Unexplained injuries
How to address bullying or discrimination
The best thing to do is to create a safe environment for that person. They need to know that you accept them as they are and that you’re willing to help.
Be willing to listen to them without judgment or interrupting their story.
If they need you to step in, you need to make the relevant people aware of what is taking place.
Go with your friend or family member to support them. Take the lead only if they are too afraid. Try to encourage them to do it themselves.
If it’s in the workplace, you need to calmly speak with the supervisor, manager or HR person to let them know about the situation.
Ask whether they have a policy in place regarding bullying and discrimination and what the next steps will be.
If it’s at a school, which should have such a policy in place, you need to speak with the teacher or principal.
They should know how to handle the situation with the sensitivity it needs and without drawing undue attention, to prevent further bullying.
If the situation does not improve or the relevant parties refuse to step in, you may need to consult a counsellor, therapist or legal representative.
Different countries and states have different laws governing discrimination due to sexual orientation, so it would be best to get advice from a professional in your area.
Be an advocate
The best way to help LGBTQ people who are being discriminated against is to make it clear that you do not agree with these actions.
You need to visibly show your support.
You can also connect LGBTQ colleagues and friends or start a support group of like-minded people.
The more support you have, the more weight your arguments and actions will carry.
If your company or school does not have a policy for LGBTQ discrimination or bullying, suggest it and help draft it.
Support or host LGBTQ events like Pride Month in June.
Have the business or school wear rainbow shirts or get a group together and join the local Pride parade. This will also help show solidarity.
Lastly, if you know that someone needs professional help to deal with the effects of bullying and discrimination, assist them in going to see a therapist or counsellor.