At a recent assembly, members of Waynflete’s PRIDE group (Promoting Respect Integrity and Equality) shared thoughts regarding the value of allyship for people who are Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning and Queer (LGBTQ+). Together they gave voice to some of their concerns and provided information about how to be an ally and how to ask questions to learn about differences. We wanted to share some of these reflections so that if you weren’t at assembly or just wanted to spend some more time thinking over what was said, there would be another resource.
Following is the text of what we said at assembly:
Last week was National Ally week. Schools across the country appreciated and reminded their communities why we each have a responsibility to make our schools physically and emotionally safe spaces. An ally is a person that wants to fight for the equality of a marginalized group that they’re not a part of. An ally supports, by uplifting the voices of LGTBQ+ people, not speaking over them. Allies are people who demonstrate respect and kindness, who do not use hurtful words or tease others, and who stand up to others if they hear or see mistreatment. Allies within and outside of the LGBTQ community help to create and hold safe spaces and caring relationships for others and for each other.
We each have our own story, our own narrative that guides how we experience the world. How can we agree to be kind to each other, when the messages of who deserves respect conflict? If who I am and what I believe is the opposite of someone else, is there any opportunity to connect? Growing is often uncomfortable, but if I choose to stay isolated, I will miss out on learning and growing. In my experience, the rewards of learning, growing and connecting outside my own story have added depth to my character, challenged my assumptions, broadened my awareness, and helped me to understand myself.
It worries me when people who are LGBTQ are not comfortable with the community they are a part of. It concerns me that LGBTQ people are not being treated as a group who need a voice. It worries me that people who are LGBTQ are sometimes treated awkwardly and it shapes the way others see that person. When I hear something offensive I would say “Please, I know you probably didn’t mean to offend me, but please in the future could you not assume.” When I hear something hurtful, I say “ouch”. Then it invites a pause and maybe a question. Then I can explain whatever bothered me.
One important part of being an ally is understanding that simply being open to learn is essential and that you are in a position to be educated. This also means that allies cannot be too defensive when they make mistakes, but that is a two way street, as those who are doing the educating must also not be excessively defensive or accusatory to those trying to learn and support. I feel best when people respect some of the boundaries I have that others may not have.
I feel welcome when people don’t notice something different. Both positive and negative reactions can feel uncomfortable. I feel welcome when people are kind, and say “hi, good morning,” anything you would say to a friend. It’s important to support those who are close to you, and sometimes it’s difficult to know exactly how. Some good things to do as an ally are to acknowledge and respect others’ pronouns, ask questions if you are confused instead of assuming, and offer to talk to someone if they seem like they might need a friend. An important part about being an ally is just encouragement and support. Everyone will need something different, so a good ally could just say “how can I help/support you?” Even just knowing someone’s there can be good. I feel comfortable when I am surrounded by people who love and support me.