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LGBT and SIOP: A Report from L.A. 

Eden B. King and Mikki R. Hebl

After an engaging and informative interactive session in Chicago last year, SIOPs ad hoc committee on lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) issues resolved to build upon a new tradition by hosting an open session and reception at SIOP in L.A. The purpose of this meeting was to promote LGBT support and voice within SIOP and to identify strategies for improving LGBT issues from the perspective of a wide range of stakeholders.


In an effort to gauge the current state of LGBT issues at SIOP, the LGBT committee asked session attendees to discuss their experiences at the conference and throughout the year. With regard to the conference, first-time attendees reported that they were pleasantly surprised by the inclusion of the LGBT committee meeting and reception and that these sessions helped increase their sense of belonging. Session participants who had attended the conference previously were also encouraged by continued support from SIOP. In addition, many attendees were enthusiastic about the quality of research presented in a symposium addressing LGBT issues (Workplace Diversity: Exploring the Work Experiences of LGBT Employees).

However, attendees also noted that only a small proportion of presentations at the conference were devoted to LGBT issues. In fact, despite SIOPs support for establishing an interactive poster session concerning LGBT issues in the workplace, too few posters on this topic were submitted to constitute such a session. It was clear to attendees that this scarcity of research at the SIOP conference highlights a need for increased research attention to LGBT issues.

With regard to the experiences of LGBT individuals in the context of SIOP throughout the year, session attendees reported that they felt somewhat disconnected from any social or research network focusing on LGBT workplace issues. Many attendees were unaware of the existence of the SIOP-sponsored discussion list, and those who had joined reported being discouraged by its limited use. Committee members pledged to reintroduce the discussion list and to facilitate knowledge sharing and social support by offering their own posts and encouraged attendees to participate fully. We encourage all SIOP members and interested parties to join the LGBT discussion list by following the guidelines outlined on the SIOP discussion list Web site: http://www.siop.org/comm/LGBT. If you are interested in submitting something to the discussion list, please follow the guidelines outlined at this Web site and e-mail: siop-lgbt@lists.apa.org.

Strategies for Improvement

To build on last years SIOP session in which barriers faced by LGBT individuals and potential methods for overcoming these barriers were identified, this session took a more focused approach to understanding strategies for improving LGBT issues from the perspective of multiple stakeholder groups including top management, organizations, LGBT-supportive individuals, LGBT individuals, lawmakers, and SIOP members. Attendees offered ideas about what each of these groups could do to support LGBT workers.

For example, attendees suggested that top management could include LGBT in statements about diversity inclusion, visibly endorse LGBT workers by attending LGBT-related functions, work with executive coaches in improving inequitable behaviors, and make punishment for sexual orientation discrimination equivalent to other forms of discrimination. Attendees also suggested that organizations could make commitments to supporting LGBT community activities, create norms for supportive attitudes (i.e., a positive climate for sexual-orientation diversity), and could integrate diversity inclusion competencies and their evaluation in compensation systems. 

From the perspective of LGBT-supportive individuals, the groups suggestion was to support, support, support. In particular, session participants suggested that LGBT-supportive individuals could help to fight injustice on behalf of individuals who face it or to back up coworkers when help is needed. Session attendees suggested that LGBT individuals might consider coming out, become leaders within their organizations, and support others who are questioning their sexual identity or whether they should disclose their identity. 

Legislators were invited to rethink policies that limit the rights of LGBT individuals and to include LGBT individuals as members of a protected group. More broadly, session attendees advocated the financial and electoral support of political candidates who will champion equality for all individuals.

Session participants also suggested that SIOP members, whether researchers or practitioners, can integrate sexual orientation into their ideas of diversity. From both academic and applied perspectives, concepts of fairness must extend beyond traditional foci of groups protected by law to include those who continue to face challenges in the workplace without legal protection: lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered employees.

Getting Involved 

At the conclusion of the meeting, the committee thanked Scott Button for his work on the LGBT committee. Scott is stepping down as the committee co-chair and Mikki Hebl will continue on as the lone committee chair. 
We would like to invite all of you to become active in LGBT-related activities and on the LGBT committee. In particular, if you would like to serve on the committee or volunteer your services and energy in other ways, please contact the committee chair, Mikki Hebl. 

Committee Chair: 
Mikki Hebl, Rice Universityhebl@rice.edu   

Additional Members: 
Tamara Bruce, Michigan State University; brucetam@msu.edu   
John Cornwell, Loyola University; cornwell@loyno.edu   
Eden King, Rice University; edenking@aol.com   
Corey Munoz, University of GA; cmunoz@uga.edu   
Belle Rose Ragins, UW-Milwaukee; ragins@uwm.edu   
Brian Welle, NYU; brian_welle@ksg.harvard.edu   

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