Stereotypes about gender identity and sexuality may seem harmless, but little words can have big consequences. Today, millions of Americans face discriminaiton, harassment and stigma in the workplace, at school, and in community spaces, because of who they are, who people think they are, and whom they love. 

Creating sensitive and inclusive environments where all people feel safe and accepted is key to advancing reproductive freedom — and equity — for all. Check out our tips for fostering an LGBTQ+ inclusive space in your community. 

Ask your colleagues, classmates, and those around you how they identify when you meet them.

Pronouns are just one of the ways we portrary our identity. Next time you introduce yourself, start with your name and your pronouns, then ask the other person to do the same. Pronouns include (but are not limited to): she/her/hers, he/him/his, they/them/theirs.

Example: “Hi, my name is Rose and I use they/them/theirs pronouns.”

Use gender-neutral language whenever possible.

Even common phrases like “ladies and gentlemen” can make nonbinary folks feel excluded in everyday life.

Instead of addressing a group as “ladies and gentlemen,” try using the following: everyone, esteemed guests, folks, friends, students, and colleagues. 

Similarly, gendered words like “waitress,” “actress,” and “fireman” can be replaced with a gender-neutral alternative like “server,” “actor,” and “firefighter.” It’s also unnecessary, for example, to say “a male nurse” when “nurse” is just as accurate and doesn’t reinforce gender stereotypes. 

If your building has an all-gender bathroom, make sure everyone knows where it is and that everyone is free to use it.

For example, if there is insufficient signage, call up your landlord or talk with your boss, and help make sure it’s clear that the bathroom is open to everyone.

Share this information with your networks, and don’t be afraid to correct people around you when they use gendered language.

But remember — everyone takes criticism a bit differently, and it can help to think about when and how you’re educating someone. (Feel free to share this post!) Whether or not you personally identify as LGBTQ+, taking these steps and making an effort to be inclusive can go a long way to creating a more safe and inclusive environment for everyone.

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