Making our Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) group fully inclusive

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2018 National LGBT Conference
27 July 2018

The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Self-Organised Group (SOG) has always sought to be fully representative of its diverse membership, in line with UNISON’s rules. Over our 25-year history, our understanding of our membership has developed and changed, along with the wider LGBT community.

We work with inclusive, umbrella definitions of bisexual and transgender. Our bi network is for all members who feel attraction to more than one gender. Our trans network is for all types of self-identifying trans people; for people with trans backgrounds and members whose gender identity does not fit into the gender binary i.e. non-binary members.

Despite these inclusive definitions some members who we consider to be part of our group are put off. We hear repeatedly that when members attend our meetings, they feel welcomed and included, but before they attend they had been unsure. This is particularly the case for members who do not personally use the label LGBT about themselves, for example people who identify as queer or pansexual. It is clear that there must be many others who are put off and never get over that barrier.

As requested by 2017 LGBT Conference, the national committee has undertaken consultation on making our LGBT SOG fully inclusive. This followed a motion from the National Young Members Forum highlighting the growth in the number of people, and young people in particular, identifying their sexual orientation and gender identity in many different ways beyond a binary definition, and expressing their preference to see the LGBT group move to organise on an LGBT+(PLUS) basis.

Over 75% of the consultation responses, and all the regional group responses, were in favour of the proposal to change the group’s name to LGBT+, with comments such as “It’s time for this change so that we are truly reflective of our membership and our potential members”; “this is an important next step in making our SOG more inclusive and to attract and maintain members to our union”; and “adding + is much more inclusive, and it avoids LGBT becoming a long and confusing alphabet”.

The consultation also sought views on what we should be doing to make our group fully inclusive. The responses will be considered as part of our on-going work to improve our policies and practices.

Putting the + in our name would not change our existing remit of being a self-organised group for all members who experience prejudice because of their gender identity or sexual orientation, but would demonstrate an inclusiveness beyond that conveyed by our current name so that people who we consider to be members are not put off from participating.

Conference therefore instructs the National Committee to:

1)To take whatever steps necessary to change the name of our group to LGBT+

2)Issue briefings/guidance for branch and regional groups on what the name change would mean

3.Continue its programme of work to make the group and UNISON more inclusive.