How important are allies to the LGBTQ+ community?

Jean Turner

A civilian member who works in London, Ontario. Jean is a woman who identifies as queer or lesbian.

What's the importance of allyship?

Allies are extremely important. In the workplace, when a straight or cisgender colleague calls someone out for bad behaviour or an inappropriate joke, it resonates powerfully because they aren't perceived to have a personal agenda for being critical of that behaviour. They're seen as being motivated primarily by decency, so their support is indispensable.

Do you think it's important for the RCMP to provide education and awareness about the LGBTQ2 community?

Yes, awareness and training are vital for the safety of both police officers and members of the community because it helps prevent hatred and violence. It's extremely important in policing. I recently finished the RCMP's 2SLGBTQ+ awareness course, which I thought was excellent. By the end, I was feeling quite emotional because I felt the course completely validated the professional and personal struggles that members of the community endure. The course dug deep into our lived experiences and topics like empathy, support and the importance of being an ally.

What does the acronym LGBTQ2 mean to you?

For me, aside from the specific letters, the acronym represents a diverse group of individuals across the gender and sexuality spectrum. The community includes people from every race, culture and religion.

As an RCMP employee, what's been your experience as a member of the gender diverse community?

When I started for the RCMP in 2002, I was married to a man. In 2009, I came out at work as a lesbian and I felt completely supported, I still do. The only negative experience I had early on was a rumor mill situation. Just prior to coming out at work, one of my co-workers was spreading rumors that I was gay. I had a closed-door conversation with her and told her it was my personal information to share and that she shouldn't be speculating. We had a serious talk and she apologized. Other than that, no issues. I've always felt very safe and supported in the RCMP and I've become involved with many diversity committees. I'm currently the Chair of my division's LGBTQ2 employee network. I do a lot of advocacy work for the community in policing, specifically in Ontario. It's opened up a world of opportunities that I had no idea existed.

Tessa Duc

A public service employee in Ottawa, Ontario, she identifies as bisexual.

What's the importance of allyship

Allies are essential. Anyone, regardless of who they love or how they identify, can help support the 2SLGBTQ+ community. I'd like people who aren't part of the community to listen to others' experiences and perspectives with an open mind, to be active listeners, to ask questions that are appropriate and respectful and, in the face of learning new things, to not be afraid of making mistakes. If you use the wrong pronoun, just apologize, correct yourself, move on and try to do better. We need allies to help us break through equality barriers.

Do you think it's important for the RCMP to provide education and awareness about the LGBTQ2 community

One hundred percent, we need to educate ourselves. Before I started working for the RCMP, I took a few Government of Canada webinars about the 2SLGBTQ+ community that I found informative. I just finished the RCMP's 2SLGBTQ+ awareness course and I thought it was really well put together. It has a lot of information for people who are just starting to learn about the 2SLGBTQ+ community and who'd like to know more about specific terms and individual experiences. I think the RCMP should try to identify biases among its employees so we can address them head on. The 2SLGBTQ+ community is a significant population. Police officers should be equipped with the right information so they can have positive interactions with all of the communities they serve. Within our organization, we should have more learning opportunities, more training sessions and especially more conversations on this topic.

What does the acronym LGBTQ2 mean to you

I'm relatively new to identifying myself within the 2SLGBTQ+ community, so I've been learning a lot about it. When I use the acronym, I include "2S" at the beginning as opposed to the end to honour the Two Spirited Indigenous people who lived on this land before European settlers arrived. I think of the acronym as an umbrella term that represents a lot of different identities and orientations. It's a great start to understanding diversity, but we should remember that every letter in the acronym has diversity within it. Language evolves, so the acronym is a work in progress, one that expresses many things. I think it represents communities of people who are similar because of their experiences, attractions and perspectives, but also different from each other. It represents a deep history that has many layers. As I said, I'm new to the community, so for me, the acronym represents pride. I'm proud to relate to this community and to hear their stories – I want to yell it happily to the world because it's exciting to me. The acronym represents people from outside of the community appreciating what love and life are like for people within the community. Finally, to me, it's a symbol of acceptance and understanding among the diverse members of our community.

As an RCMP employee, what's been your experience as a member of the gender diverse community

I've been with the RCMP for a little more than two years, so my experience of being out here is relatively new. I've definitely found pockets of positivity within the RCMP and I've chatted with a lot of other members of the community. While there are accepting sections, I think acceptance still has to spread throughout the organization. Initiatives like this are a good start – celebrating individual stories, identities and experiences. We should do more of this kind of thing so we can learn about our colleagues. Raising the Pride flag at RCMP buildings and promoting 2SLGBTQ+ initiatives on our social media accounts are also positive steps.

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