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Is Your Event 2SLGBTQIA+ Inclusive?

It’s 2022—your event planning processes need to take sexual orientation and gender identity issues seriously. An events coordinator suggests some first steps.

2SLGBTQIA+ inclusivity is no longer a “should” when it comes to event planning; it’s a must for a successful event. A focus on inclusion needs to be weaved into every detail of the event-planning process. Whether you’re planning a virtual, hybrid, or in-person event, there are opportunities to make your event 2SLGBTQIA+ and SOGI inclusive.

Let’s Make Sure We’re Talking the Same Language
2SLGBTQIA+ is an acronym for “two-spirited, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, and asexual,” while the “+” represents other ways for individuals to express their gender and sexuality.

SOGI is an acronym for “sexual orientation and gender identity.” Unlike 2SLGBTQIA+, SOGI is not a list of identities. It is an all-encompassing term that is relevant to all individuals, including those who identify as straight and/or cisgender.

Why Advocate for Inclusivity?
Inclusivity and representation improve the overall engagement and experience for all your attendees. It also widens your audience by welcoming members of the 2SLGBTQIA+ community. Being an ally can be as simple as working with venues that offer all-gender restrooms or developing an inclusivity policy that is enforced with zero tolerance for inappropriate language or behavior. These details can help to make your attendee experience more inclusive and enjoyable.

Think About Representation
Consider how you represent the 2SLGBTQIA+ community in your choice of speakers, panelists, and entertainers. Not only is it important that people feel represented at your event, it also benefits your brand. Many individuals make it a priority to support openly inclusive organizations.

Representation also applies to supplier selection. Look to local 2SLGBTQIA+ business directories or speak to your vendors to see if there are community partners you can bring on for your event.

Extend inclusivity and representation to your event marketing by including photos of a variety of SOGIs. Have your team review your marketing materials with an eye to ensuring that the representation feels authentic and goes beyond stock photos.

Your Language Matters
Being intentional about using inclusive language can make all the difference in whether attendees feel welcome and understood. Make sure to eliminate the use of outdated language such as transvestite (the more appropriate term is crossdresser) or transgendered (the more appropriate term is transgender).

Use 2SLGBTQIA+ glossaries and resources to familiarize yourself with terminology to ensure you are using language appropriately and remove any assumptions you have about specific terms.

Change It Up
Here are some easy ways to help your event be more inclusive.
● Change the wording on dress codes from, for example, “men in tuxedos and women in cocktail dresses” to “cocktail attire.”
● Change the way speakers address the audience from, for example, “ladies and gentlemen” to “distinguished guests.”
● Rather than requiring pronouns on name tags, make them optional.
● On the registration form, expand your options from “Mr., Mrs., Miss, and Ms.” to include Mx.
● Rather than having attendees select their pronoun from a list, provide a fill-in-the-blank pronoun option.

There are many ways to improve the inclusivity of your event and ensure all members of the 2SLGBTQIA+ community feel welcome. Focus on reducing any instances where “othering” may occur and instead create opportunities for inclusion. All attendees deserve to feel safe, understood, and acknowledged regardless of their SOGI.

Kassidy Skinner is an events coordinator at Tycoon Events, a division of The Event Estate Inc., a full-service event management company based in Edmonton, Alberta.

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