Is LGBT Discrimination an Issue in The Security Sector?

Posted on Thursday, November 5, 2020 by Michael LeeNo comments

While the security sector is diverse as they come, often employing a wide range of people from a wide variety of ethnicities, genders and social classes, there is still the preconception that those that work in the security industry are brawny 'tough guys' who view anyone who do not fit the mould of what it means to be overtly masculine as lesser and more often than not, weak.

This discriminatory approach towards those seen as less ‘virile’ can often lead to those within the LGBT community feeling isolated.

While it’s true, that someone’s sexual preference or gender identity should not define them as a person or their ability to perform assigned tasks in a job role, according to a recent study, individuals who identify as Gay, Lesbian or Transgender are still faced with discrimination and hostility.

The survey by Trades Union Congress (TUC) revealed almost seven out of 10 LGBT workers have said they have been sexually harassed or assaulted at work. Of the 1,000 people asked, around one in six of those affected also said they had left their job as a result of ongoing incidents of harassment.

People should feel safe when at work, regardless of their gender or sexual orientation. While the findings of this recent study reveal much more work needs to be done to tackle LGBT attitudes, there is more support and understanding towards Gay, Lesbian and Transgender people than ever before.

How to stop LGBT discrimination and be an ally

A safe work environment is critical in building strong self-esteem and encouraging productivity for LGBT people. To create a safe work environment where LGBT work colleagues feel included and productive, allies are needed to ensure LGBT discrimination is called out and dealt with efficiently.

What is an Ally?

An ally is an individual who speaks out and stands up for a person or group that is targeted and discriminated against. In this instance, an ally is someone who calls out discrimination when they see it happening towards an LGBT work college.

An ally is someone who in most instances, identifies as heterosexual but offers support while advocating for LGBT people who are stigmatized, discriminated against or treated unfairly.

What is LGBT discrimination?

While discrimination and what is classed as offensive can be subjective based on an individuals perception, it is also worth noting that caution should be applied when working with people of a diverse background. For example, while a throw away joke or comment could be considered flippant or 'lads banter' words can often have a negative and devastating effect on those receiving it, whether intended to cause offensive or not.

 Just like any type of bullying, LGBT discrimination should be highlighted and addressed as soon as it happens. Ask yourself, have you witnessed examples of LGBT bullying in the workplace? This could be anything from a homophobic remark to an actual physical altercation. What did you do about it, and what can you do to not only discourage this kind of discrimination, but to help put a stop to it within the workplace?

Working in the security industry is ultimately about protecting people, this should also include LGBT work colleagues who may face discrimination and harassment within the workplace due to external characteristics or harmful stereotypes.   

Reporting hate crime

If you’ve experienced, or know someone who has experienced LGBT discrimination you can report it to the police.

You can contact the police directly, or you can use an online reporting facility such as True Vision.

There are also local organisations who can help you report the incident or crime.

Switchboard (LGBT Helpline)

Switchboard provides information, support and referral service for lesbians, gay men and bisexual and trans people – and anyone considering issues around their sexuality and/or gender identity.

Contact – 0300 330 0630

Open – 10:00-22:00 every day

What Jobs in Security Says

Unfortunately living in a diverse society will often mean that a person will be met with a variety of differing opinions. While some of this feedback may prove to be productive, it is inevitable that there will be times in which hurtful and often damaging words may come your way. Regardless of your sexuality or gender identity, when in the workplace you should be spared from any kind of harassment or discriminative behaviour.

Be part of the process to foster a welcoming environment while always being cautious to ask questions if you are unsure of people’s personal boundaries or sensitivities. From a persons preferred pronouns to which gender they identify as, we can all start to be inclusive just by listening and accepting one another's lived experiences.

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