What is an ally?
An ally is someone who uses their words and actions to support the rights of marginalized or oppressed peoples. If you are a person who uses your words and actions to support LGBTQ2S people, then you are an all of our community. GLAAD states that allies "are some of the most effective and powerful voices of the LGBTQ2S+ movement. Not only do allies help people in the coming-out process, they also help others understand the importance of equality, fairness, acceptance and mutual respect” (2007).
What do I have to do if I want to become an ally?
Being an ally is less so about an identity you take on, but more so about the actions that you take to make spaces more inclusive for LGBTQ2S people. If you want to be an ally, work to live your life in a way that is supportive of all people, regardless of their gender identity, gender expression, and/or sexuality. Speak out against and challenge homophobia, biphobia, transphobia, and heteronormativity. Be a support for someone who is lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or two spirit. Be respectful to all people and don’t treat anyone differently on account of their gender or sexuality.
Being a Youth Ally
It’s hard enough being a teenager without feeling like you are a target for bullying due to your sexuality or gender identity. Being an ally to youth means that you pledge to take a stand within your school and/or peer group against homophobia, biphobia, transphobia, and heteronormativity. This can include speaking out when you see or hear intolerance, joining your local Gay/Straight Alliance (GSA), or wearing an Ally button.
Being an Adult Ally to Youth
Being an adult ally to youth is very important, especially for those in social and helping professions such as educators, counsellors, coaches, and social workers. Queer youth need support and mentorship from adults and their peers. Teaching Tolerance’s website has an excellent checklist of ways you can be an adult ally:
- Post a “Safe Space” sign in your classroom and office. It signals to LGBTQ2S+ youth that you’ve got their backs.
- Confront homophobic remarks, including slights and slurs that you overhear. Many students use terms like “fag,” “dyke”, and “that’s so gay” without thinking. Let them know that such speech is unacceptable.
- Seek opportunities to incorporate the contributions of LGBTQ2S+ people in science, history, athletics and the arts into your curriculum.
- Don’t assume any student is gay—or not gay. If LGBTQ2S+ students do confide in you, thank them for their trust. Follow the student’s lead about what else you should do. Perhaps sharing this information is enough at this point. But if the student needs additional support, you can provide invaluable help by being versed in the LGBTQ2S+ -competent resources available in your school, district and community.
- Organize or encourage district administrators to arrange an in-service with a qualified youth advocate about how to create a safer school for LGBTQ2S+ students.
- If your school has a Gay-Straight Alliance, volunteer to act as its faculty advisor, or contribute in other ways.
Being an Ally to the Trans Community
Here is a a great resource from our friend's at The 519 on how to be an ally to folks in the Trans and Gender Diverse community: