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10 Ways to be More Welcoming

and Inclusive of LGBTQIA+ People

  1. Respect queer as a valid sexual orientation and identity label.

  2. If you personally have negative associations with the word queer, find ways to open yourself to new understandings of the word. Do personal, gentle, deep work in order to honor and respect those who use queer to describe themselves.

  3. Include the word queer in the language you use to talk about sexual orientation and gender identity: “lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer” or “LGBTQ.”

  4. Avoid making assumptions based on your perceptions of a person’s gender or the gender of the people they partner with—open yourself to the possibility that any person, of any age, might identify as queer.

  5. Learn more about queer identity on your own. You might start by reading at least two articles or books that increase your understanding of queer identity.

  6. Dominant culture teaches us to depend on dualisms; challenge yourself to eradicate dualisms from your language and your understanding of the world. Gay and straight, masculine and feminine, black and white: all dualisms obscure so many shades of grey, shades of queer, shades of androgyny and fluidity. Open yourself to this infinite variety.

  7. Use terms that encompass all genders rather than only two (e.g., “children” instead of “boys and girls”; “people” instead of “women and men”; “siblings,” “kindred,” or “brothers and sisters and siblings of all genders” instead of “brothers and sisters”).

  8. Expand the ways that sexual orientation is understood and discussed in your congregation beyond the idea that sexual orientation is a born-in, static trait. Although many people believe themselves to have been born lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer, or straight, others experience sexuality as fluid and changing throughout their lifetime. Honor this diversity of experience through the ways you talk and teach about sexual orientation.

  9. Do continuing education for your congregation at large on bisexual and queer issues.

  10. Queerness is often located at the margins. Consider how your congregation’s welcome, advocacy, witness, and/or service around LGBTQ issues can be more grounded in the experiences and needs of those who are most marginalized, such as queer and trans youth, queer and trans people of color, and undocumented queer and trans immigrants.

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