I subscribe to Diversity Inc and I thought that their latest article would be of interest to you if your workplaces include GBLT individuals who are recently out of the closet. In the article they listed 7 things never to say to GBLT co-workers, as suggested by GLSEN (the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network), the Out & Equal Workplace Project. I’m not presuming that you would make these common mistakes, (I needed a reminder of what not to say), but you may wish to pass this information on to someone you know whose workplace includes recently out LGBT co-workers. For the entire Diversity Inc. article here’s a link:
Things NOT to Say to Your LGBT Colleagues
No. 1: “I suspected you were gay.”
Although it is a common response, it’s insensitive and plays into stereotypes.
No. 2: “I’m sorry.”
Why should you apologize for a colleague’s orientation? This implies judgment and can make the situation more difficult. Would you apologize for a person’s ethnicity or gender?
No. 3: “Why did you tell me that?”
It’s important for people to bring their “whole selves” to work, and coming out of the closet is certainly a part of who one is. “The notion of leaving a big part of your self at home and walking into work is like walking around with two types of shoes on,” says Selisse Berry, founding executive director of Out & Equal, an advocacy organization that provides services to companies, human-resource professionals, employee-resource groups and individuals.
No. 4: “Which bathroom do you use?”
Transgender people often are asked what gender they are. Such questions are inappropriate, warns Out & Equal. It is important to remember that gender identity is becoming an increasingly sensitive subject.
No. 5: “We are not close enough for you to share that information with me.”
Not all employees are interested in their coworkers’ personal lives. If you feel a colleague may have shared too much information, you can simply say, “Thank you for telling me that,” says Price Waterhouse Cooper’s executive Stephanie Peel.
No. 6: Referring to coworkers as “she-male.”
There has been a lot of uproar these days over this phrase. Transgender employees often are the brunt of culturally insensitive jokes and comments.
No. 7: “What do you like to do in bed?”
Sexual questions and comments are always off-limits. Not only do you run the risk of offending a colleague, you are also teetering the line of sexual harassment. It’s important not to be confused between trying to understand someone’s personal life and inappropriate sexual harassment, warns Kevin Jennings, executive director of the Arcus Foundation and founder of GLSEN.