Why the LGBT+ community needs you

If you want fairer treatment for LGBT+ patients and staff, become an ally in the fight for a fully inclusive workplace culture, says Rachael Machin.

After a busy two days at the LGBT+ Trades Union Congress conference, CSP members came together to march in the trades union section of London Pride last month. Both the chair of council, Alex MacKenzie, and chief executive, Karen Middleton, joined 40 LGBT+ activists on the march. Network members were delighted by the solidarity that Alex and Karen showed.

The CSP has had a consistent presence at Pride for the last eight years, but what made 2018 unique, was the number of straight and cisgender allies who joined the LGBT+ network members.

Allies are defined by Stonewall as ‘individuals who do not identify as LGBT and believe that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transsexual people should be free to be themselves and reach their full potential’.  

Allies don’t just support people in the coming-out process, they help others to understand the importance of equality, fairness, acceptance and mutual respect. In healthcare, allies can make a conscious effort to fight heterosexism, homophobia, biphobia and transphobia to improve care for patients.  

It’s not just the responsibility of LGBT+ people to create a fully inclusive workplace culture. We know that people perform better if they can be themselves and allies can use their role within an organisation to create an inclusive culture. This can be achieved by staff at the top of an organisation, such as Alex and Karen, and by allies at all levels of organisations, including students, associates and physiotherapy colleagues.

Attending a Pride event can often be the start of an alliance with the LGBT+ community; the festival atmosphere is entertaining and uplifting. It’s important for allies to understand that Pride began as a political demonstration, born of the Stonewall riots of 1969. While LGBT+ people in the UK have equal marriage and protection of rights under the Equality Act 2010, many LGBT+ people around the world are persecuted, murdered, imprisoned and tortured because they are not cisgender or heterosexual. 

Allies can make small – but significant – changes by learning and using the correct vocabulary for LGBT+ people, implementing and using data monitoring, and identifying and challenging inequalities in clinical services and working environments.

Individuals make change happen, and the LGBT+ community welcomes the strength and support that allies can contribute. If you identify as LGBT+, or would like to know how you can support your LGBT+ patients and colleagues, please contact Susannah Gill, CSP Equalities Officer – gills@csp.org.uk. You can also join the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy LGBT+ network’s Facebook page – bit.ly/2LIMBfM.

  • Rachael Machin is the CSP’s LGBT+ network convenor

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