Queer consultation: listening to bisexual civil servants
Mary Peart, CSRA's bisexuality rep, writes about how you can help support bisexual civil servants this Bi Visibility Day.
By Mary Peart
I am writing this blog post while hurtling through the British countryside on a train from Sheffield to London. I travelled to Sheffield today to conduct the final in a series of interviews and focus groups aiming to understand the experiences of bisexual, queer, asexual, and pansexual civil servants.
The Civil Service, along with the society we serve, has made significant progress when it comes to acceptance, representation and support for LGBT people. This includes the ‘B’, with Bisexuality Visibility Day on 23rd September being widely recognised across departments.
However, from the annual People Survey results, we know that civil servants identifying as bisexual and with the ‘other’ option are less likely to feel included at work. This is not just in comparison with our heterosexual colleagues but also in comparison with our gay and lesbian colleagues. We know that this is also the case for our overall sense of engagement, as well as our wellbeing.
My fellow CSRA volunteers and I wanted to address this directly. We wanted to hear from bisexual, queer, asexual and pansexual colleagues to understand their experiences and create change. This was the catalyst for the recent consultation we have carried out. With focus groups conducted, interviews completed, and written responses provided by colleagues across the country and across government, we are one step closer to our goal. Our next step is to use this evidence to understand the key issues and to form practical recommendations to better support this group, which we hope to launch in early 2018.
This Bisexuality Visibility Day, I am reflecting on how lucky I am to have carried out this consultation, because it has given me the opportunity to meet so many dedicated and inspiring people across the Civil Service who want to create a safer, more accepting world for people of all sexualities and genders. Some have offered to share their stories with you, so that you too can help create change.
What can you do to help on Bi Visibility Day?
- Read Lucy’s or Stuart’s perspectives and share them with colleagues, friends, or on social media.
- Challenge biphobia if you feel comfortable doing so. Open, non-judgemental questions are a good way to challenge someone’s thinking in a positive and constructive way.
- Be aware of your own assumptions and the language you use, particularly around gender. We can all make mistakes and make assumptions (including LGBT people) but by being aware of our assumptions, we can create change together.
Do you want to contribute to our consultation? Are you a civil servant who identifies as bisexual, queer, asexual, pansexual, or tend to tick the ‘other’ box in the People Survey? Then it’s not too late to share your perspective! Email firstname.lastname@example.org to see how you can be involved.