LGBTQIA is an acronym that stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, and asexual/agender.
What is the meaning of LGBTQIA?
LGBTQIA is an acronym that includes a wide range of gender identities and sexual orientations. Its origin can be traced back to the 1990s and the term LGBT that stood for Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual. In the early 21st century awareness and understanding of gender and sexual diversity increased and so the acronym expanded to LGBTQIA for the purpose of including more identities.
Who does LGBTQIA stand for?
The LGBTQIA abbreviation represents seven different gender identities and sexual orientations:
- Lesbian: A female person who is attracted to other female persons and identifies as a member of the lesbian community.
- Gay: A person who is attracted to another person of the same gender or sex. It is most commonly used to describe men who are attracted to other men.
- Bisexual: A female person who is attracted to both individuals of the same gender and of a different gender.
- Transgender: Refers to a range of gender identities that diverge from conventional binary definitions. Generally, a trans individual’s expression of gender does not correspond to their biological sex and in many parts of the world it is not acknowledged by the society and its legal institutions.
- Queer: Refers to individuals whose gender identity does not conform to traditional norms regarding sexuality and gender. It may be defined as an umbrella term that embraces a diverse range of sexual orientations, gender identities and expressions that are not exclusively heterosexual or cisgender, including gay, lesbian, bisexual, pansexual, asexual, genderqueer and non-binary.
- Intersex: Intersex people have characteristics that do not fit the traditional definitions of male or female.
- Asexual: Generally speaking, asexual people do not feel any sexual desire toward others. They may, however, experience romantic attraction and engage in affectionate relationships with individuals of the same or opposite gender.
Challenges within the LGBTQIA communities
Individuals from the LGBTQIA communities have often been the subject of discrimination and prejudice based on stereotypes and the traditional social construct of gender identity.
As a minority group, LGBTQIA communities face a number of unique challenges, including:
- Prejudice and stigma that often lead to social pressures to conform to traditional heterosexual and cisgender norms.
- The lack of social acceptance has been linked to a higher occurrence of mental health issues within the LGBTQIA communities, including anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, substance abuse and self-harm.
- Discrimination against LGBTQIA people is common and oftentimes expressed in the form of bullying, harassment, transphobia, homophobia and violence.
- Limited legal protections and recognition of LGBTQIA rights, which has led to discrimination in areas such as housing, employment, and access to healthcare.
- Disproportionate rates of homelessness among LGBTQIA youth, often due to family rejection or lack of supportive environments.
Building an inclusive and LGBTQIA friendly workplace
Building an inclusive workplace culture requires organizations to ensure equity for all workers, including employees who are members of the LGBTQIA communities. According to a study by McKinsey & Co, LGBTQ+ women are more than twice as likely to feel inhibited from talking about their lives outside work than cisgender women.
The same study also found that LGBTQ+ men feel the pressure to perform harder in order to prove their competence.
Another study reported by the HRC Foundation found that:
- 46 % of employees from the LGBTQ+ community feel closeted at work.
- 53 % of employees from the LGBTQ+ community have experienced jokes about lesbian or gay people at least once.
- 31 % of employees from the LGBTQ+ community reported to have felt unhappy or depressed at work
Going from policy to practice
A written policy alone isn’t enough to bring about changes in the workplace. It is important that organizations actively promote and cultivate a culture of diversity at every level. This calls for consistent efforts that go beyond internal codes of conduct.
Here are some key steps:
- Training employees to recognize and address microaggressions, subtle forms of discrimination, and offensive behavior that may harm LGBTQ+ colleagues. This includes understanding implicit biases toward LGBTQ+ individuals
- Including specific LGBTQ+ terminology in company policies that covers topics such as gender-neutral language, pronouns, and gender diversity. This ensures that employees are equipped with the proper language to foster a more inclusive and respectful workplace environment.
- Creating specific channels for reporting harassment, discrimination or bullying. These need to be safe spaces where LGBTQ+ employees can voice their concerns and trust that these will be taken seriously.
- Establishing employee resource groups (ERGs), otherwise known as employee networks or affinity groups. ERGs are powerful tools for strengthening employee engagement and providing networking opportunities that lead to personal development and growth.