To celebrate International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia & Transphobia (IDAHOBT), we wanted to share some small ideas about what you can do to make your non-profit organization more inclusive of queer and trans communities. While we have a few ideas, it is important to remember that queer and trans communities are vast and diverse, full of different experiences and people who have tons to offer in terms of their own perspectives of what they need to thrive within non-profit organizations.
Purposefully include queer and trans realities into your human resources and program policies.
Queer and trans people work in your organization, volunteer in your organization and take part in your programs or events as participants or clients at your organization. Are your policies reflecting and incorporating these realities at every level?
When it comes to human resources policies, you might want to consider implementing extended health care coverage for trans employees, adding queer and trans people under your equity in hiring policies, or including more expansive queer understandings of family under your family leave policies.
For anti-harassment and safety, it could also be helpful to make specific mention of homophobia, biphobia, acephobia, transphobia, transmisogyny and transmisogynoir directly in existing anti-harassment or workplace anti-bullying policies. For instance, clearly indicating that purposeful or neglectful misgendering is unacceptable in the workplace helps provide trans and non-binary people with clear language that allows them to recognize situations like this as workplace safety issues.
Non-profits are becoming more and more equipped to respond to barriers to meaningful inclusion in the workplace and within their agency, and policies that place equity-seeking groups front and centre go a long way to supporting the goal of building inclusive organizations.
Incorporate queer and trans experiences into your programs and resources.
Every non-profit, no matter what their focus is, has an opportunity to incorporate queer and trans experiences into their work. Too often, there’s an expectation that queer and trans specific organizations should be meeting all the needs of queer and trans people, but this means that 2SLGBTQ+ community organizations are often forced to become experts on every socio-political issue through a queer lens.
Imagine what the non-profit sector would look like if every non-profit organization considered the issues or communities they serve with equity-lenses. For example, an organization that serves survivors of cancer should have programs and staff that are informed by queer and trans experiences of cancer.
Tangibly for your organization, this could include ensuring your have resources and materials that reflect queer and trans experiences, or having a semi-regular queer and trans specific program such as a monthly closed space for queer and trans clients. For organizations that are new to queer and trans topics, it could also mean building partnerships with local 2SLGBTQ+ organizations in your community to help bring this perspective to the work that you’re already doing.
Offer queer and trans equity training and professional development opportunities to your Board, staff, and participants.
While no amount of training or professional development will 100% eliminate queerphobic or transphobic attitudes at your organization, providing queer and trans professional development opportunities for everybody at your agency is a good step forward to creating more inclusive spaces. That being said, many organizations seek out training for their staff, without understanding that both the people leading the organization (i.e. Board members) and the people receiving services or supports from the organizations (i.e. clients and participants) also need to be a part of this journey.
In most communities across the country, there are local or regional organizations that can offer your non-profit with locally informed training that will help prepare everybody at your organization to better support and care for queer and trans communities. Accessing training through these agencies has the added benefit of financially contributing to 2SLGBTQ+ organizations that often rely on money raised through professional development sessions as a way to subsidize their programs.
Investing into professional development sessions for the entire organization is an important part of building an inclusive agency, and while it can be tempting to do this once and check off a box, queer and trans communities are constantly changing and this training often needs to be updated and re-taken on a regular basis. Consider incorporating this training into your professional development cycles, and make sure that there are opportunities for your team to expand and build on their knowledge every year.
Jacq is the CEO & Principal Consultant at i+d. With over 10 years of experience in the non-profit sector, they’re love thinking up creative ways to challenge the norms while still getting things done.
You can usually find Jacq drinking Diet Pepsi and watching something great on Netflix when they’re not working.