This guide gives quick tips and information on creating a fully inclusive community where everyone can feel seen, heard and whole. Highlighted strategies include language considerations and overall best practices.
The first step towards creating a fully inclusive culture and environment is a commitment to a vision and the values of equality and respect for all people—and cultivating the language necessary to communicate those values and put them into action.
Use Inclusive Language on all Communications
Instead of saying, Ladies and Gentleman, Boys and Girls, etc, trying using language that is all-inclusive such as, folks, families, congregants, community members, children, friends, campers, etc.
Ensure Inclusive Documents
Designate an All-gender restroom
It’s important that all members of our community feel safe and included. For many transgender people and people who don’t conform to societal gender norms, using a public restroom is a daily struggle. Trans and gender expansive people are often harassed, physically assaulted, or questioned by authorities in both men’s and women’s bathrooms if they are assumed to be in the wrong bathroom. All-gender restrooms provide access to safe bathrooms and changing areas for people of any gender identity and presentation. They also provide safe spaces for those who need the assistance of a personal care attendant or those with small children.
You can do this simply by designating an already existing single stall restroom as an all-gender restroom. Find a sign to do this on Keshet’s website
Participate in local events/promote local events
Respect people’s names and pronouns and don’t assume anyone’s names/pronouns
Using people’s pronouns and names is one of the biggest and easiest ways you can show respect. Normalize this by having everyone share their pronouns during introductions. Also, show respect by not assuming their sexual orientation or gender identity. For example, when talking to a teen about dating, don’t automatically assume that they are interested in the opposite sex.
Host a training for your staff/community members on terms/concepts
Update your email signature
Have LGBTQ Programming
Change your Policies
Explicitly state in your policies that your organization is affirming and inclusive of all diverse people including and not limited to sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression. And make sure that your policies are visible.
The necessary documents include a comprehensive anti-bullying statement for folks, inclusive anti-harassment Human Resources policies for staff, and a non-discrimination policy that includes sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression. These statements should be easily available on your website, printed in your parent and student handbook, and available upon request.
Inclusion is a journey, not a destination
Every organization is different, and no one knows your organization better than you. No matter how many trainings you hold, safe space signs you put up or anti-bullying policies you put into place, the only true way to create a fully open and supportive community is to be committed to values of equality and respect all the time, every day. Have your staff check in regularly and discuss how you are meeting your goals and achieving your values. This time for reflection does not necessarily require special meetings, but can be incorporated into your regular staff meetings and check-ins. Bring your teens into the conversation. Brainstorm new ways to encourage greater equality and respect, address any issues and make it an ongoing conversation in your community. An organization that cares deeply about the safety and happiness of their LGBTQ teens will undoubtedly be a wonderful place for them to belong.