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Respecting people for who they are, being inclusive, and encouraging others to do the same, can mean a lot in today’s world. Friends, whānau and community members can play a huge role in supporting sexuality and gender diverse people.
Scroll through the info below to find out how you can provide the best support to your rainbow communities.
If a person is disclosing their identity or ‘coming out’ to you, it’s likely they will feel nervous, stressed, or uncomfortable, but they clearly trust you with this information. Therefore, it’s really important that you show them care and respect, maintain their trust, and keep this information confidential.
If you’re confused about what you’re being told, don’t worry. You don’t need to fully get it, you just need to be there. This may mean just listening to the other person share how they are feeling, or helping them access support services or talk to other people they care about. Ask them how you can help, and let them decide.
Asking a person for their pronouns, and then using them to refer to that person, is a great way to show whakaute (respect) for someone’s identity. If you do use the wrong pronouns for someone, this is called misgendering. It's important to try not to do this. If it does happen, an apology goes a long way.
Sometimes you might have other patai (questions) about a person’s identity. Whether or not you should ask these questions depends on your intentions. Why do you need to know this information? If it is so you can address somebody in the right way, or get to know them a little better, that's okay. It’s not necessary to ask people about their genitalia, or whether they’ve had gender reassignment surgery. Remember to be ngāwari (kind) and ngākau aroha (compassionate).
If you are curious about something that is related to gender identity or sexuality, try doing some research first. InsideOUT has some great Youtube videos about Aotearoa's rainbow communities.
Tangohia te wero – take up the challenge! Use this app, or jump online, and do some research to get clued up on all things gender and sexuality.
How can you make your kura (school) or wāhi mahi (workplace) more inclusive?