How to talk to LGBTQ+ students

Speaking to people with different gender identities or sexualities can be confusing.

How to talk to LGBTQ+ students


Speaking to different people with different gender identities or sexualities can be confusing for many people. No one wants to say the wrong thing or offend anyone, but often people feel too awkward to ask the question: ‘How would you prefer me to address you?’ Instead, we make assumptions – and herein lies the problem.

Even though we may not realise we’re doing it, we make assumptions about people every day. Imagine the people you work with and think, ‘how many of these people went to university?’ or ‘how many are in a same-sex relationship?’ As soon as we start answering these questions for ourselves, we’re making presumptions about others. We all do it – but to make change, we need to take notice of our own assumptions and ask questions instead.

At SkillsFirst, they’ve joined Just being me – a national strategy to help people feel more comfortable speaking to LGBTQ+ students. Just being me started as a one-off event for care providers to educate staff about caring for LGBTQ+ people. But from the very beginning, the team realised that the training would be useful for people across all sectors, and it’s grown from there.

SkillsFirst say that people are like flowers – with the right conditions they can grow and blossom. Just being me aims to provide the right soil, a stable pot and the right support to help people grow – no matter their sexuality or gender identity.

As part of their Just being me campaign, SkillsFirst are promoting LGBTQ+ awareness in apprenticeships and higher education. They want to support tutors and managers to feel confident in how they speak to LGBTQ+ students, and ensure that students feel safe and confident to be their authentic selves in a professional environment.

SkillsFirst are lobbying with the Government to introduce regulation around support for LGBTQ+ students. They’re also working with a large national group made up of commissioners, directors and managers from the NHS, social care and education who identify as LGBTQ+ to develop a national LGBTQ+ care and education strategy.

They’ve also launched the first LGBTQ+ qualification of its kind in the UK – Level 2 Certificate in LGBT Inclusion in the Workplace (RQF). The qualification encourages inclusivity and promotes positive interaction with people who identify as lesbian, gay, bi-sexual or trans (LGBT) in the workplace.

This qualification is available for all learners and is a really valuable addition to their professional development.

Just being me is a fantastic cause to join and is going to make such a difference for so many students. To find out more about Just being me and see how you can support the cause, get in touch with SkillsFirst here.


This article includes research and opinion sourced by OneFile at the time of publication. Things may have changed since then,
so this research is to be used at the reader's discretion. OneFile is not liable for any action taken based on this research.