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5 Ways to Make Your Event More Inclusive of the LGBTQ+ Community

From the registration process to the know-before-you-go document, here are some ideas to help make events more welcoming.

June is Pride Month, dedicated to acceptance and equality of people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning. There are many ways meeting professionals can do their part year-round to make events safe and welcoming for these communities. Below is an excerpt from an informative blog post from Meetings & Incentives Worldwide that can help planners better understand their role.

1.Choose an LGBTQ+-Friendly Destination

During the sourcing process, ensure all attendees feel safe traveling to your event by choosing a destination that is LGBTQ+-friendly. This means cities and countries where homosexuality isn’t a crime, same-sex marriage is legal, and anti-discrimination laws are in place, as a start. Also, ensure that the culture is as welcoming and inclusive as the legislation; just because something is legal or illegal doesn’t mean the local population agrees. Resources like the LGBTQ+ Travel Safety Index can help you evaluate whether a potential destination is safe for the LGBTQ+ community.

2. Create an Inclusive Registration Process

Collect pronouns during the registration process so they can be included on name tags. While this can be as simple as adding another registration field, there are a few important things to keep in mind:
• Pronouns should be an optional step of registration, not required. Not everyone is comfortable sharing their pronouns or is ready to be outed to other event attendees.
• Make it clear that pronouns, if provided, will be included on the name tags; if they will be used or included elsewhere, share that information as well.
• Either use a multiple-choice format with a final option to write in an answer or make the question fill-in-the-blank. While the most common pronouns options are they/them, she/her, and he/him, some people use a combination of these or other pronouns altogether, like ze/zir, so it is important not to limit their options.

If you need to ask attendees for their gender, don’t just offer “male” or “female.” Also include “non-binary,” “other,” and “prefer not to say” to be as inclusive as possible. If you need this information to book travel, explain this reasoning and specifically request that attendees select their gender to match their government-issued ID.

3. Use Inclusive Language
On your event website, during registration, and at the event, it is important to use inclusive language. “Ladies and gentlemen” may once have been the standard greeting, but now you can welcome attendees with language that is gender-neutral, such as “everyone,” “folks,” or “all.” This is also the perfect opportunity to get creative! For example, if your event is celebrating your organization’s top performers, greet them as “sales superstars,” or if all attendees are from Indiana, greet them as “fellow Hoosiers.”

4. Share Gender-Neutral Dress Codes
Similarly, if your event has a dress code, do not specify appropriate dress for men versus women. Instead, keep it gender-neutral so it is inclusive of everyone. When defining a business-casual dress code, for example, instead of “Men should wear slacks and dress shirts; women should wear slacks, dresses, or skirts,” simply say “Acceptable attire includes slacks, dress shirts, dresses, and skirts.”

5. Welcome Diverse Speakers
Even if event content doesn’t include LGBTQ+ topics, you can and should feature speakers who are part of the LGBTQ+ community. Events should have diverse presenters who reflect their diverse audience. This isn’t limited just to gender and sexual-orientation diversity, either; also consider race, age, religion, ability, and other types of diversity when creating your speaker lineup.

Veronica Ferguson is marketing and communications lead at Meetings & Incentives Worldwide.

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