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Queer Mxms' Guide to Self-Advocacy in the Workplace

Updated: Apr 25

Speaking up for yourself at work is difficult for anyone, but can feel especially daunting as a queer mxm juggling unique needs.


However, advocating for yourself and your family is crucial for getting your needs met. In this article, we explore a few strategies that have worked for other LGBTQ+ people in advocating for themselves at work.


Working mom


Put Requests in Writing 


Follow up verbal requests for schedule changes, benefits adjustments, or other accommodations with a written summary. This helps establish a paper trail and ensures agreed upon next steps are documented. 


  • Forces discussion points to be clearly articulated and thought through before putting them in writing.

  • Provides documentation you may need to demonstrate you advocated certain items

  • Allows requests and responses to be carefully worded and edited before sending.

  • Confirms for both you and your manager that you correctly understood agreements made via verbal discussions.

Even if you have a great relationship with your manager and are confident they’ll follow through on verbal agreements, it’s still good to get important information documented. It only takes one misunderstanding down the line for things to get murky if there's no written record. People forget specifics or interpret conversations differently.


Correct Pronoun Usage

Reaffirm your correct pronouns and insist on proper usage.


Example: "I wanted to follow up on my request that colleagues use They/Them when referring to me. Despite several reminders, I'm still being addressed with the wrong pronouns. Please let me know how we can reinforce their usage throughout the team. Ensuring I'm addressed correctly is essential for me to feel respected at work."


Requesting Time Off

Explain the need while emphasizing your commitment to deliverables.


Example: "I'm requesting next Tuesday afternoon off to attend my son's school conference, which was scheduled at 2pm. I will ensure all my projects are up-to-date before leaving that day. Please let me know if there are any concerns with taking 3-4 hours off, as it's an important event for my family. I appreciate the flexibility!"


Inclusive Language

Point out language that needs updating and provide alternatives.


Example: "I noticed in the employee handbook we're still using terms like 'husband' and 'wife.' Could we update the language to be more inclusive of all partnerships and family structures? For instance, using 'spouse' or 'partner' instead of gendered terms?"


Set Up Regular Check-Ins


Schedule monthly or quarterly check-ins with your manager to touch base on how your current schedule and workload are managing. These meetings allow you to make adjustments if needed and build open communication channels with your manager over time. 


These allow you to address any minor issues before they become major problems. Small frustrations can be aired early and this provides a chance to proactively address any issues.


 

Struggling to get more time with your supervisor? You’re not alone. A 2022 RedThread Study showed a whopping 70% of employees want more check-ins with management. 


Possible solutions: 

  • Send calendar invites instead of open-ended requests to meet.

  • When you do connect, try to schedule the next check-in while you have them live

  • If you continue to get blown off directly, try reaching out to a supportive senior team member that could give advice or guidance on how to resolve this based on your company’s practices.

 

Use Your Resources


See if your workplace has an employee resource group for LGBTQ+ employees. Their members will have valuable insights on advocating as a LGBTQ+ employee and may be able to point you to company contacts who can assist.


Actively taking advantage of your employer's educational and professional development funding is self-advocacy.


While it may feel easier to forego the effort of researching options and applying for reimbursement, pushing yourself to identify and enroll in useful courses, conferences, or certificate programs is an investment in your future. The company budgeted this money for your growth - put it to work!


 

Know Your Rights


Familiarize yourself with relevant labor laws and company policies so you understand what you are entitled to request. This knowledge can give you confidence in making certain requests.


Start by looking up labor laws in your state - your employer must comply with regulations on issues like leave, benefits, and discrimination. Review your employee handbook and HR policies to understand company-specific protections and procedures.


The more informed you are, the better you can stand up for yourself while still operating within appropriate boundaries. 







 

Move On


In some situations, moving on to a new company that better supports your needs may be the healthiest decision and strongest way to stand up for yourself.


When exploring new job opportunities, consult resources like the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index, which benchmarks companies on LGBTQ+ inclusion policies and practices. 


Leaving your current job to find an organization that fully embraces LGBTQ+ employees and families can be the ultimate act of self-advocacy.


Self-advocacy is an ongoing process, but becoming proactive, informed and solution-oriented makes it manageable. Approaching workplace needs strategically and professionally allows you to get support while continuing to excel in your careers.


 

Support LGBTQ+ Small Business! Join the Gay Moms Club and champion small business while celebrating LGBTQ+ motherhood.


By signing up for a Club Membership, you’re not just supporting a vibrant and growing community; you’re also empowering small business within the LGBTQ+ spectrum. Embrace diversity, support local entrepreneurs, and be a part of a movement that fosters inclusivity, one membership at a time.

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