By Grant Godino
President of the Rotary LGBT+ Fellowship
Rotary Club of Traralgon, Vic
As I have started to share my ideas and stories about LGBT+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and gender diverse, queer, and questioning) inclusion in Rotary, I have heard so many of our leaders say to me: “We’re a really decent club/district. We don’t have any bad people. So, we don’t have a problem. Right?” I’ve also heard things like “Why is Rotary doing something so political?” and “There are no gay people in my community.”
These comments come from a place of ignorance, but I always consider them a teaching moment. LGBT+ rights are human rights. But while diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) have climbed the Rotary agenda over the past decade, many LGBT+ members continue to face discrimination. When it comes to true inclusion, everyday interactions with peers and leaders matter as much as organisational policies or formal processes.
Here are some ways to make your club and Rotary as a whole more inclusive for LGBT+ communities.
Start having conversations
In order to understand the challenges for LGBT+ people, leaders at all levels (club, district, zone, and international) should stay connected to what it means to be LGBT+ in Rotary. This means:
- Asking a local LGBT+ organisation to speak at your club.
- Downloading and discussing some of the educational resources developed by the Rotary LGBT+ Fellowship (rotarylgbt.org/education) and Rotary international (rotary.org/dei).
- Discussing Rotary’s commitment statement on DEI and the DEI code of conduct at a club meeting.
- Contacting the Rotary LGBT+ Fellowship to make a presentation.
Once these conversations start both internally and with the communities your club serves, you may see that there are LGBT+ people in every community, and maybe already in your club.
Set a meaningful public example
We need to do this to show LGBT+ communities they are welcome and safe in Rotary. This could include:
- Small gestures like putting a rainbow flag at the bottom of your website, using the LGBT+ Fellowship’s rainbow heart logo on event flyers or Rotary’s commitment statement on DEI to make a bold statement that we are accepting of everyone.
- Asking members to include their pronouns on name tags, at club meetings and in email signatures. This signals support for LGBT+ communities and is a powerful education piece, helping people understand the importance of using individual’s correct pronouns. It reduces the chances that people will mistakenly misgender someone who is trans or gender diverse.
- Support projects that address key issues for LGBT+ communities. When you are thinking of your next project, consider issues like HIV/AIDS treatment and prevention, addressing mental health issues, and homelessness in LGBT+ communities, or preventing violence toward LGBT+ people.
- Support and promote the Rotary LGBT+ Fellowship.
About the author Grant Godino (he/him) is the charter president of Gateway Rotaract, a member of the Rotary Club of Traralgon, Vic, and President of the Rotary LGBT+ Fellowship. Grant identifies as a gay cisgender male and lives with his partner Lee (he/him) (also a Rotarian) on Gunaikurnai land in the Latrobe Valley, Gippsland, Victoria.