Promoting positive attitudes
The Equality Commission considers that promoting positive attitudes towards LGB people is a priority area for strategic action.
Demeaning stereotypes, the absence of any positive portrayal of LGB people or a lack of open support for LGB equality can have a significant negative impact on the day to day lives of LGB individuals.
Clearly, a number of key stakeholders can play a key role in promoting positive attitudes, including political leaders, the media, public bodies, private and voluntary sector employers and schools and education bodies.
The need for strong and positive political leadership at all levels in order to effectively promote positive attitudes towards LGB people has been recently recognised in the survey report by the Fundamental Rights Agency on the experiences of lesbian, bisexual, gay and transgender (LGBT) people across the EU.
Importantly, this survey revealed that there is a clear link between offensive language by politicians towards LGBT people and the level of perceptions of discrimination by LGBT people within communities; with comparatively lower levels of LGBT indicating that they had been discriminated against in countries where politicians rarely used offensive language about LGBT people.
Public bodies and employers
Public bodies, including Departments and local authorities, as well as private and voluntary sector employers, can also make a significant contribution to promoting positive attitudes towards LGB people, including by taking measures to promote positive attitudes towards LGB employees, office holders and customers.
For example, they can promote positive attitudes through their external and internal communication policies and practices; including communications to staff and customers and visible support for external LGB initiatives or events. Other examples, including openly working in partnership with the LGB sector to deliver services to the LGB community.
They can also take steps to increase the participation of LGB people in public life and the visibility of LGB people in society.
In addition, both local and national media, through the positive and supportive portrayal of LGB issues, can have a profound impact on promoting positive public attitudes towards LGB people.
Schools and education bodies
Schools and education bodies can also significantly help promote positive attitudes towards LGB pupils through challenging negative stereotypes of LGB people, and promoting a greater understanding of LGB equality issues within the class room (for example, through Relationships and Sexuality Education).
As explored in more detail below, steps can be taken to more effectively embed equality of opportunity for LGB pupils within curriculum support materials and good practice guidance; and by supporting teachers to deliver steps are taken to ensure that schools are supported to deal with sexual orientation issues in a sensitive, non-discriminatory way.
- We recommend proactive action is taken through key stakeholders, including political leaders at a national and local level, public authorities, private and voluntary sector employers, schools and education bodies, and the media, to promote positive attitudes towards LGB people.