The month of June and part of July were filled with lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Pride celebrations. The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department participated in the celebration and released the LASD Pride badge. The symbolism of this hits pretty deep for those in the LGBT community and their LASD brothers and sisters. It sends a message of acceptance and embrace for the LASD LGBT community and those they serve. These types of actions offer hope, courage and strength to overcome potential adversities.
Coming out of the closet is a challenging process and a unique journey for those closely involved in it, including close family and friends. The first step for a person is to recognize and understand their sexual identity. Once that hurdle is achieved (sometimes it’s a lifelong process), then there’s a journey of managing and accommodating beliefs (e.g., religious) and relationships, sometimes losing connections with family, friends, co-workers, etc. It is not uncommon for the fear of losing these relationships to impact the complex decision whether to disclose one’s sexual orientation and/or gender identification. It is this and other factors that may have a negative effect on emotional well-being and increased risk for mental illness, substance abuse and potentially suicide. This is in part why explicit and intentional symbolism of acceptance with something as seemingly small as a LGBT Pride badge is so important. Somebody who is struggling in silence may experience hope and a message of, “You belong, and we are here for you!” LASD personnel may also have relatives who are LGBT, and to a certain degree, are also charged with the burden of having to come out of the closet. Those messages will empower them in their journey of self-acceptance and disclosure. This is the strength in the ethos of being part of a law enforcement family: to take care of each other and protect each other’s vulnerability. We need to continue to make strides in being leaders for LASD’s LGBT brothers and sisters, and provide an environment that promotes authenticity.
There are simple things that we can do to offer an environment that sends the message of acceptance to those who belong to the LGBT community. We have to be intentional and explicit in sending the message that our LGBT family is safe and embraced. We can place LGBT–related material, signs and symbols around the workplace (such as posting the Pride badge, for example). Avoid making assumptions of sexual orientation (i.e., “Do you have a girlfriend/boyfriend?”). Instead, use a gender-neutral approach, such as, “Are you dating? Do you have a spouse?” Have the courage to speak up against homophobic statements. Thank you, LASD, for standing up with your LGBT family/community.
If you are experiencing difficulty and need support, we are here for you. To schedule a consultation or to make a confidential appointment, call us at (213) 738-3500. To obtain additional information, you may visit our intranet site at http://intranet/intranet/ESS/Index.htm