LGBT History Month February 2022

As we head into LGBT+ History Month, our Equality & Diversity Manager Lyn Bowker talks about the importance of LGBT history and how we can help members of the LGBT+ community feel welcome and accepted in 2022 and beyond.

I am proud to work at Riverside, as we prepare to celebrate LGBT+ History Month, an annual month-long observance of lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and non-binary history, including the history of LGBT+ rights and related civil rights movements.

The month aims to raise awareness and educate the wider population all over the world about matters that affect the LGBT+ community.

In the UK, it started in February 2005, to coincide with the abolition of Section 28 of the 1988 Local Government Act, two years earlier. This had stated that Local Authorities were not allowed to ‘intentionally promote homosexuality or publish material with the intention of promoting homosexuality’. The event has been held every February since then.

In 2022 we’re celebrating the 50th anniversary of the very first Pride March in the UK in 1972.

As part of increasing the visibility of LGBT+ people and celebrating their history, lives and experiences, at Riverside we encourage our LGBT+ colleagues to achieve their full potential, so they can be their authentic and true selves in the workplace.

To do this, our LGBT+ colleague network Spectrum continues to raise awareness on matters affecting these colleagues, including making safe spaces for all LGBT+ communities.

Last autumn, Spectrum and our People Services team reviewed and updated our former Gender Reassignment Policy, renaming it the Gender Identity and Trans inclusion Policy, as well as updating our guidance for colleagues and managers, which helps Riverside provide a trans inclusive environment.

You can check out our Gender Identity and Trans Inclusion Statement here.

Inclusive language also creates inclusive workplaces, and for this reason, I include my pronouns in my email signature. Doing this makes it easier for someone who is gender non-conforming to share their pronouns.

What are gender pronouns?  They are words that a person uses to describe themselves or would like others to describe them.  For cisgender people, whose sense of personal identity and gender corresponds with their birth sex, the common pronouns are she/her/hers or he/him/his. However, people who do not conform to the binary male/female categorisation may use they/them/theirs.

By including my pronouns in my email signature. I hope to bring awareness and demonstrate inclusivity internally and externally and show consideration and respect that pronouns are an important part of gender identity.

My signature has already sparked brilliant conversations with colleagues across the business and also people from my external networks, who have gone on to add their pronouns into their email signatures.

How can you support LGBT History Month?

  • Be Visible: Communicate any activities, local events, articles, and blogs that you know about to colleagues, customers and service users – display them in lifts, corridors, intranet pages, email signatures and desk drops.
  • Be Inquisitive: Brush up on your knowledge. With so many people unaware of LGBT+ events and figures in the past, use this month to teach yourself about the importance of LGBT+ history.
  • Share experiences: Write a blog on social media about what LGBT History Month means to you, share who your role models are and why.

For more information on LGBT History Month, check out these resources from Stonewall. LGBT+ History Month resource hub | Stonewall