12 things you should never say to your LGBTQ coworkers
Zackary Drucker/The Gender Spectrum Collection
- LGBTQ workers face discrimination in the workplace - even from coworkers who have good intentions.
- Asking invasive questions about an LGBTQ coworker's personal life or referring to them with the wrong pronoun can be dehumanizing and make them feel uncomfortable in their work environment.
- We asked experts to name 12 common things you should never do or say to your LGBTQ coworkers.
- Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.
On October 8, the US Supreme Court will hear three cases to determine whether or not anti-discrimination protections in the workplace cover the rights of LGBTQ people.
The cases have highlighted some of the hardships LGBTQ workers face while on the job, including comments from their straight and cisgender coworkers that make it difficult to feel comfortable in their work environments.
Even the most progressive of coworkers who consider themselves allies might still make subtle comments that are inadvertently harmful or disrespectful to their LGBTQ coworkers. Such actions are called microaggressions, and are often subtle and the result of implicit biases.
"Microaggressions are the everyday reminder that many people, including people we have to interact with regularly, still don't respect LGBTQ identities," Fran Hutchins, deputy director of Equality Federation, said.
With that in mind, here are 12 things you should never say to your LGBTQ coworkers.
Don't try and compliment them by saying "You just don't strike me as gay."
Don't try to relate to your LGBT coworkers by bringing up that one queer celebrity you know.
Along those lines, don't try to relate to them by bringing up your LGBTQ relatives every time you interact with them.
Never say to your bisexual coworker, "But you're really just gay" or "You’re really just straight, right?"
Don't 'misgender' your coworkers by referring to them with the wrong pronouns.
Never ask an invasive question like "So who's the man in your relationship?"
Don't refer to your queer coworker's partner or spouse as their "friend."
It's inappropriate to tell your coworker "I would have never known you were transgender."
Asking your coworker "Have you had the surgery yet?" or other invasive questions about their body isn't just rude — it's likely sexual harassment.
Don't force someone to use a particular bathroom based on their gender assigned at birth rather than their real gender identity.
Similarly, don't force trans and gender-nonconforming employees to wear gendered uniforms.
But the most insidious form of workplace discrimination occurs before an employee is even hired. The reality is that many LGBTQ workers don't even make it through the interview process.
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