The Fast Stream LGBT+ network have written a new handbook. It provides a great guide for LGBT+ Fast Streamers while also helping allies and managers provide better support. The handbook’s author Niki Wood had the support of the Fast Stream LGBT+ network, Civil Service LGBT+ Network, LGBT Champions, A:Gender and other trusted sources. Fast Stream LGBT+ Network Chair Rhys Roberts introduces the new handbook.
It is no secret that the Fast Stream is designed to be challenging. For many it requires moving away from support systems and moving around the country for three to four years. Combine that with your first posting probably being either your first job since university, first experience in the public sector or both. This is where being an LGBT+ Fast Streamer becomes tricky. When considering to bring your whole self to work, the prospect of revealing your sexual orientation or gender identity at each new posting can be intimidating and exhausting.
When I first joined the Fast Stream I had an identity crisis around being a ‘high achieving’ Fast Streamer and being myself which was making the experience miserable for me. It was around this time that I became chair of the Fast Stream LGBT Network. My manager commented that I was demonstrating a spark leading that network which I wasn’t translating across into my day job. It was this observation that made me realise how important the network was to my wellbeing and professional development. I was able to practice skills in a safe environment that I may not have been getting at work. I could talk to like-minded individuals who understood the pressures and educate myself through the experiences of others. I can honestly say that I have been able to connect the dots between my work with the network and my day job and I’ve never been more comfortable with myself both in and out of work.
That leads me to the LGBT+ handbook. A labour of love for the past 10 months in our personal time. We have created a document that attempts to condense and signpost the offer that is out there. Not just for LGBT+ Fast Streamers but also those who wish to be allies to their LGBT+ colleagues. It outlines some of the identity-specific challenges faced by those who identify within the LGBT+ spectrum and the welfare options available. It introduces the Fast Stream LGBT+ Network, its committee, and all the networks available to those working in the Civil Service. Most importantly, it outlines experiences of Fast Streamers. Of being included, supported, and accepted within the Fast Stream and Civil Service more broadly. And how to get involved in the LGBT+ movements across the Civil Service.
The network has come leaps and bounds since its initial creation. This handbook is a beacon to highlight this and the fantastic committee we have leading it. I hope that it is a useful resource and encourages you, the reader, to interact with the network in the future in whatever capacity you feel most comfortable with!