“There is no thing as a single-issue struggle because we do not live single-issue lives.”

Jenny Crocker co-chair of Spectrum

During a busy month for Riverside’s three equality and diversity staff groups, Jenny Crocker, Co-chair of our lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) staff network, looks at the common aims they all have.   

October is a busy month.

Black History Month runs throughout, October 10 marked World Mental Health Day, rapidly followed by International Coming Out day on October 11.

During this month, we have shared some of our colleague’s stories and stories from other role models that reflect the events going on.

It was fitting that I recently went to the Stonewall Workplace Conference and spent a day in workshops centred on Inclusion, Mental Health and BAME (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic) experiences.

I could write an essay about what was discussed, all the learning from the day and list every one of the fabulous speakers and facilitators however I will resist and merely share with you some of the stats and common points of the day.

  • Half of BAME LGBT people (51%) have experienced discrimination or poor treatment from others in their local LGBT community because of their ethnicity. This rises to three in five black LGBT people (61%).
  • In Stonewall’s Mental Health Briefing, 79% of lesbian and bisexual women say they have had a spell of sadness, felt miserable or felt depressed. This increases to 86% for BAME women.
  • LGB people were reported as two times more likely to have attempted suicide, increasing to four times more likely for bi men. The LGBT community is 50% more likely to have experienced mental illness and more than 60% of trans individuals have attempted suicide.

Being LGBT does not, in and of itself, cause mental health problems. Instead, homophobic bullying, rejection from family, harassment at work and poor responses from healthcare professionals are still commonplace for many lesbian, gay and bisexual people. A huge 91 million UK working days are lost through mental illness, it is the most common cause of absence.

So how we can improve our workplaces, champion inclusion and be allies to each other?

The culture in someone’s office can play a large part here, reflecting support from management and colleagues, clear and open channels for support and reporting harassment, clear challenging of inappropriate behaviour and language.

We can raise awareness and amplify marginalised voices, review systems that are creating barriers for people, and sometimes being a good ally just means being there to listen to someone’s experiences.

If you want to do some reading around this or more of the research in this article you can go to the Stonewall website.

I will leave you with quote from Audre Lorde which I felt encompassed the day: “There is no thing as a single-issue struggle because we do not live single-issue lives.”