Our chief veterinary officer, Adam Christman, DVM, MBA celebrates pride month with some tips on how to be more inclusive
Happy Pride Month, everyone! This is always a great time of year to celebrate all our individualities and being our authentic selves.
Those of you who have seen me at the live events shows know that I enjoy being myself and making others laugh and learn. Nothing feels more incredible than people seeing me the way I see myself. However, let me be perfectly queer: Marginalized communities in the United States are going through a tough time, from bans preventing individuals in the trans community from working to an overall increase in reported hate crimes based on race, sexual orientation, gender, and religion. So during this season of Pride Month, I wanted to share with you several ways we all can be an ally for the LGBTQ+ community.
Being an ally to the LGBTQ+ community means standing up for and supporting individuals who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and more. It’s about creating a safe and inclusive environment for everyone, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
EDUCATE YOURSELF: One of the most important things you can do as an ally is to educate yourself about the LGBTQ+ community. This includes understanding the different terms used to describe different sexual orientations and gender identities. There are many resources available online, such as articles, blogs, and documentaries, that can help you learn more about the LGBTQ+ community.
LISTEN TO AND VALIDATE LGBTQ+ VOICES: It’s important to hear the experiences of LGBTQ+ individuals and to validate them and their feelings. This means acknowledging that their experiences are valid and that they have the right to express themselves in the way they see fit. Allowing us to be invited to the dinner table and sharing our ideas and thoughts allows for great innovation and collaboration.
SPEAK OUT AGAINST DISCRIMINATION: If you hear someone using homophobic or transphobic language, speak out against it. It’s important to make it clear that such language is not acceptable, and that you will not tolerate it.
SUPPORT LGBTQ+ ORGANIZATIONS AND BUSINESSES: Be that hospital ally within your community. I remember as a student seeing the rainbow flag at various places of businesses, and I cannot begin to tell you how much it meant to me. I felt safe, welcomed, and I felt like I belonged.
Sharing a symbol or Pride flag during Pride Month—and all year long—really goes a long way. Supporting LGBTQ+ organizations and businesses can help create a more inclusive environment. This includes attending LGBTQ+ events, donating to LGBTQ+ organizations, and shopping at businesses owned by LGBTQ+ individuals.
BE AWARE OF YOUR PRIVILEGE: As a straight or cisgender individual, it’s important to be aware of the privilege that comes with your identity. This means acknowledging that LGBTQ+ individuals may face discrimination and prejudice that you may never experience. This understanding not only extends to your fellow team members but also to the clients you serve.
Many of my clients are part of the LGBTQ+ community because they feel connected, invited, and understood in my practice. It’s just another great reason why representation matters in our profession.
STAND UP FOR LGBTQ+ INDIVIDUALS: If you see someone being bullied or harassed because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, stand up for them. This can be as simple as telling the bully to stop, or as complex as reporting the incident to the authorities.
BE AN ADVOCATE FOR LGBTQ+ RIGHTS: One of the most effective ways to be an ally to the LGBTQ+ community is to advocate for their rights. This can involve voting for politicians who support LGBTQ+ rights, writing letters to your representatives, and supporting LGBTQ+ organizations that work to advance LGBTQ+ rights. Be sure your hospital team is connected to the Pride Veterinary Medical Community (PrideVMC) or Pride Student VMC. These are fantastic organizations that provide excellent resources.
In conclusion, becoming an LGBTQ+ ally is an ongoing process that involves educating yourself, listening to LGBTQ+ voices, speaking out against discrimination, supporting LGBTQ+ organizations and businesses, being aware of your privilege, standing up for LGBTQ+ individuals, and advocating for LGBTQ+ rights. By doing so, you can help create a more inclusive and accepting world for everyone.
Wishing everyone a happy and safe Pride Month! Celebrate you!