Tuesday, October 11, is National Coming Out Day. To many, this may be just an ordinary Tuesday, but for LGBTQ+ individuals, this is a day of celebration for being yourself—no matter how you identify. You may be asking yourself, “What is “coming out?” or “I don’t know much about LGBTQ+ issues or topics… How can I keep myself educated to be the best leader I can be?” This article is the perfect stepping stone to help educate yourself and get the edge in an inclusive leadership style!
First, ask yourself the following:
- Do I know what LGBTQ+ stands for?”
- What is “coming out”?
- What is my knowledge surrounding LGBTQ+ issues?
If you don’t know the answers to all of these questions, it’s okay! The first step to becoming a more inclusive leader is to educate yourself on a topic. For starters, LGBTQ+ is an acronym. It stands for individuals that identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer/questioning and the “+” stands for any other identity that goes beyond these six terms.
“Coming out” is when an individual makes their identity known to the public. Keep in mind that not every individual in the LGBTQ+ community will come out and make it known to everyone. In fact, some individuals may go on about their lives and never make an announcement, post or other mass message about their sexual orientation—and that is okay! You don’t need to disclose your sexual orientation, and if you don’t feel comfortable sharing that part of your life with anybody, you don’t need to disclose it to them. Coming out is completely optional, and YOU decide when you want to make it known for yourself.
Education sources surrounding LGBTQ+ topics are limitless. You may look at the intersection of sexual and gender orientation, or at education regarding pronouns. Learning these issues and more will give you insight into what the community has gone through and how you can ensure you know how to discuss a specific topic. So, where can you go for reliable sources regarding LGBTQ+ topics and issues? You can find fantastic information about various topics from groups such as GLAAD, The Trevor Project and the National LGBTQ Task Force.
Learning about a topic will help you better understand a community. Of course, while trying to apply your education, you may make mistakes. Making mistakes is okay! If you are trying to learn, use and build upon your knowledge in an area such as math, science, or language arts, you are bound to make mistakes. When it comes to topics surrounding LGBTQ+ issues, you can approach them similarly. Suppose you make a mistake, such as misgendering an individual (this is when you accidentally refer to someone in a gender that they do not identify with). In that case, there is only so much you can do, but the best thing to do is apologize, correct yourself, and aim to make sure you are correct in your next interaction. While educating yourself, one of the best things you can do is keep an open mind and accept individuals for who they are.