Specific Actions

  • Respect pronouns and names.
    We recommend against using the phrases "preferred pronouns" or "preferred names" when speaking to or about someone. This implies that there is another, "real" name. The name or pronoun someone asks to be called by is real. Alternately, you might refer to someone's "birth name" or "legal name"--though you should avoid asking trans individuals about their birth name unless it is required for legal reasons.
  • Learn appropriate language and terminology.
    An ally's responsibility is to educate themselves rather than relying on LGBTQIA people to educate them. You can start with this document of basic terminology or explore this more advanced document created by Dr.Genny Beemyn of the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. You can also check out the video below explaining many different prefixes used when talking about sexual orientation, romantic orientation, and gender identity. 
  • Challenge harmful remarks or jokes, especially in public spaces.
    "Just joking" does not excuse hurtful or inappropriate remarks. As an ally, intervene and challenge others to change what is considered normal or acceptable.
  • Use neutral language whenever possible.
    For example, rather than asking if a woman has a boyfriend, ask if she has a partner or significant other. Rather than saying "he or she," use "they" or rephrase your sentence to leave out the pronouns entirely. 
  • Advocate for gender-inclusive restrooms.
    People who are trans--especially trans women--and those whose identity is outside the gender binary are often not safe in traditional gendered bathrooms. Help create more safe restrooms and learn the location of existing ones. Allow trans people to use the restrooms they are comfortable using.
  • Attend or arrange for a Safe Zone training.
    The Lifestyles Center on campus can provide Safe Zone trainings to educate and empower people to create safe and welcoming spaces. Contact them to find out how to take part.
  • Don't be terrified of making mistakes; try anyway.
    You will make mistakes and people will correct you. This is part of the learning process. When corrected, acknowledge your mistake, apologize, and learn from it. It's also perfectly fine to admit when you don't know something.

Southern Poverty Law Center has put out this excellent guide on Responding to Everyday Bigotry.

What LGBTQ Students Want Their Professors to Know

General Tips

  • Listen, don't talk. Trust what LGBTQIA+ people tell you about their experiences.
  • Be wary of jumping to conclusions or making assumptions.
  • Never "out" someone. Be careful about confidentiality and disclosure. Be absolutely sure someone is "out" to others before revealing this information, even casually.
  • Help amplify the voices and stories of LGBTQIA+ people.
  • Be intersectional in your ally-ship. LGBTQIA+ people do not have only one aspect to their identities; they are also affected by race, class, disability, socioeconomic status, etc. Support them in all aspects of their identities. 

  All content on this guide is licensed under a CC-BY-NC 4.0 License unless otherwise noted.