Our rail infrastructure is the framework which unites the UK. An exciting and varied industry, its clients and projects offer a wealth of employment opportunities for people of all backgrounds. That includes lesbian, gay, bi and trans (LGBT) people.
You’ll find people in your everyday lives who are out and open about their sexual orientation and gender identity. These individuals feel supported and empowered to work within our diverse industry. This is often down to the hard work of colleagues and role models at all levels of organisations. However, many lesbian, gay, bi and trans people continue to feel (and expect) that the rail industry, may not welcome them. They often feel that it’s best to keep that part of themselves private or worry that people might react badly if they are found out. Gender stereotypes, bullying at school and a lack of visible LGBT role models create barriers which prevent young people and adults from being themselves and applying for roles within our sector.
You have the power to be a positive influence in your working environment. Our rainbow laces for safety boots campaign is to demonstrate our support for lesbian, gay, bi and trans people in our industry.
When people feel like they can be open with those around them they perform better and can stop wasting energy hiding who they are.
HOW MANY PEOPLE ARE LGBT?
The Government estimates 3.9 million people or 6% of the population identify as lesbian, gay or bi in the UK. It is estimated that 650,000 people, or 1% of the population identify as trans in Great Britain. Lesbian, gay, bi and trans people come from all communities and backgrounds including people of different faiths, people with disabilities and people from a variety of ethnic backgrounds.
LGBT. WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW.
Lesbian, gay, bi and trans (or LGBT) people are often talked about as one group. But there are important differences. The terms lesbian, gay and bi describe some people’s ‘sexual orientation’.
Sexual orientation is a person’s emotional, romantic and/or sexual attraction to another person.
Lesbian refers to a woman who has an emotional, romantic and/or sexual attraction towards women.
Gay refers to a man who has an emotional, romantic and/or sexual attraction towards men. It is also a generic term for lesbian and gay sexuality, and some women identify as gay rather than lesbian.
Bi (or bi) refers to a person who has an emotional, romantic and/or sexual attraction towards more than one gender.
The term trans describes some people’s ‘gender identity’. We are assigned a sex at birth (male or female) but our gender identity is our internal sense of our gender (male, female, something else). Our gender identity may, or may not, sit comfortably with the sex we are assigned at birth.
Trans is a word that describes people whose gender is not the same as, or does not sit comfortably with, the sex they were assigned at birth.
Trans woman describes someone who was assigned male at birth but whose gender identity is female.
Trans man describes someone who was assigned female at birth but whose gender identity is male.
Non-binary is an umbrella term for a person whose gender identity does not fit naturally into the generic categories of male and female.
Pronouns are words we use to refer to people’s gender in conversation. For example, ‘he’ or ‘she’. Some people prefer gender neutral language like they/their or alternatively ze/zir. Asking someone which pronouns they prefer helps you avoid making assumptions and potentially getting it wrong. It also gives the person the opportunity to tell you what they prefer. If you make a mistake, apologise, correct yourself and move on. Lesbian, gay, bi and trans people use a variety of terms to describe their sexual orientation and gender identity, and the terms people use may change over time.
UNDER THE EQUALITY ACT 2010
Sexual orientation refers to a person’s emotional, romantic and/or sexual attraction to another person.
Gender reassignment refers to anyone who is proposing to undergo, is undergoing or has undergone a process (or part of a process) for the purpose of reassigning their sex by changing physiological or other attributes of sex. The law protects individuals from discrimination and companies should support anyone taking steps to ‘reassign their sex’ (or transition), whether those steps are ‘social’ (e.g. changing their name and pronoun, the way they look or dress) or ‘medical’ (e.g. hormone treatment, surgery).
The other characteristics protected under the Equality Act 2010 are age, disability, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion and belief, and sex.
HURTFUL LANGUAGE AND STEREOTYPES.
HOMOPHOBIC, BIPHOBIC AND TRANSPHOBIC ‘BANTER’ OR LANGUAGE IN THE WORKPLACE
What is it?
Homophobic, biphobic and transphobic language include jokes, ’banter’ or abuse that is negative or disrespectful towards LGBT people. It can also be language that reinforces negative stereotypes. Anyone perceived to be ‘different’ can become a target of this language even if they aren’t themselves lesbian, gay, bi or trans. Homophobic language includes phrases like ‘That’s so gay’ or ‘you’re so gay’; when people use gay to mean something’s rubbish or bad. This also includes terms of abuse like ‘faggot’, ‘fairy’ ‘poof’, ‘dyke’ or ‘lezza’ intended to be offensive about gay men and lesbians.
Biphobic language is anything that is offensive or undermining of bisexuality. For example, calling someone ‘greedy’, saying ‘they’re going through a phase’ or ‘why can’t they make their mind up and just come out as gay’.
What's the problem?
Transphobic language and attitudes include using words like ‘it’ or ‘heshe’ about trans people; refusing to use the pronoun someone has asked you to use or their correct name in conversation to cause intentional hurt is transphobic; saying things like ‘are you a man or a woman?’ or ‘you’re not a real man/woman’ as well as making inappropriate comments about a trans person’s body, medical history or gender identity.
Homophobic, biphobic and transphobic language in the workplace is a problem because:
It gives the impression that being lesbian, gay, bi or trans is wrong or shameful
It often makes individuals uncomfortable, preventing them from being open about their sexual orientation or gender identity with colleagues. This can negatively affect how people perform and reduce their involvement
It can lead to more serious incidents of bullying and encourages prejudice against anyone who is seen as being ‘different’ or assumed to be LGBT
Key point:‘Banter’ is harmful and always needs to be challenged.
STEREOTYPES ABOUT LESBIAN, GAY, BI AND TRANS PEOPLE IN THE WORKPLACE
Stereotyping about sexual orientation, gender and gender identity affects who feels welcome in the workplace. Often these stereotypes are about reinforcing what forms of masculinity or femininity are seen as acceptable, and impacts all people, not just those who are LGBT.
Gender stereotypes reinforce prejudice towards anyone who behaves or expresses themselves outside of what’s considered ‘normal’. An example of this is using expressions like ‘man up’ or ‘don’t be such a girl’
The idea of difference about lesbian, gay or bi individuals in workplace often focus on how they don’t fit traditional gender norms or gender roles in society. For example, to be a ‘real’ man you are masculine and strong, and to be a ‘real’ woman you are feminine and emotional.
Gay or bi men are effeminate, weak and hate dirty jobs.
Lesbians or bi women are masculine.
Members of the LGBTQ community are trying to convert others.
Using stereotypes like these both prevent people from being themselves in the workplace and send the message that being lesbian, gay, bi or trans is unwelcome or abnormal.