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Out at Work

February 21, 2018 by Curtin CEL Team

Out at Work

Curtin student Ridley Bergeron is a non-binary individual. Having been through the highs and lows of being out on the job, as well as hearing many other people’s stories, they now want to share some tips on coming out in the workplace.

Being LGBTIQ+ is great, but it can be daunting to be out at university, and even more daunting at work if you haven’t been out at a workplace before. Some people don’t consider being out at work to be crucial to them, and that’s fine. People see their gender or sexuality differently, and with varying degrees of importance. For those of us who do want to be out at work, here are some pointers.

  • It may be easier to be out from the very beginning, rather than spending a significant amount of time in your job before it comes up. Being out at university can be a good test-run for being out later in life.
  • Having an informed support network on hand before being out to larger social groups can help a lot.
  • If you’re gender diverse and want to transition, talk to your line manager or HR about it. Many larger companies have transition policies which do some of the work for you, such as telling people what name and pronouns to use. It can take a lot of the burden off your shoulders. Some policies will even include medical leave for things like reassignment surgery. A good example is the Gender Transition at Curtin Guide, which applies to both staff and students
  • Look for Pride in Diversity accreditation. Many large companies and firms are gaining this accreditation, which is a good way of showing that they care about their LGBTIQ+ staff. Smaller companies may not have this though as it costs to be accredited and not all companies can afford the cost. Don’t rule out an employer simply because they don’t have this accreditation.
  • Out for Australia is dedicated to supporting LGBTIQ+ students transitioning into the workplace, along with more established LGBTIQ+ staff. Of note is their mentor program, which matches students and recent graduates with mentors from within the workforce who can help them navigate moving on from university.
  • Be prepared to educate people. In some instances, you may be the first LGBTIQ+ person someone knows, and they may ask you questions because of this. Most people ask questions out of curiosity or a need to learn and understand, and don’t mean anything bad by it. You might find it useful to have some resources, such as links to websites, to help people understand. At the same time, if someone asks you something you consider invasive, you have no obligation to answer.
  • Learn the laws around discrimination and your rights at work. If coming out at work or university goes haywire, you may need to contact the Fair Work Ombudsman or the university to sort it out.

Curtin Ally is a network of students and staff dedicated to supporting LGBTIQ+ inclusion at Curtin. For more information or support you can contact an Ally or Student Wellbeing.

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