Ask the Expert: How to Be a Better LGBTQ Ally

Posted Aug 25, 2022

Otterbein University strives to be an inclusive community, providing academic and student life opportunities to celebrate people of diverse backgrounds. For the LGBTQ community, students lead FreeZone, a student organization that provides a safe community for all, while the Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program hosts events like the Other Prom and Lavender Graduation. Additionally, the new Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Resource Center provides a safe space and peer advocates on campus.

As individuals, there are other ways to advocate for inclusion. We asked an expert how to be a better ally to the LGBTQ community.

Suzanne Ashworth
Professor of English and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies
Director of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Resource Center

  1. Don’t assume there’s a “radar” for anybody’s gender or sexuality. There’s no way of knowing until you really know a person.
  1. Don’t assume everybody is comfortable sharing pronouns in group intros and icebreakers. Invite and welcome that information. Make it an option. But don’t require it.
  1. Use gender-inclusive language whenever possible: they/them, postal worker, staff person, etc.
  1. If a friend says something wack about LGBTQ things, say something. Use humor. (“Did we just time warp to the 80s?”) Be compassionate (“I know you didn’t mean anything bad, but…”). Just don’t let it slide.
  1. If you’re concerned that anything anywhere on campus is discriminatory or worse — a class, a staff member, a sports team, a res hall floor, etc.– tell someone who can help.

Confidential resources on campus are: