5 Easy ways to ensure your LGBTQ+ attendees feel welcome
Perfect event planning is more than just finding an unforgettable venue, stunning accommodations and restaurants galore to wine and dine your attendees, but in going that extra mile to make sure everyone feels welcome and included. In honour of the start of Montréal Pride 2019, we’ve put together this short 5-step check-list to easily make your LGBTQ+ attendees feel right at home at your next meeting. A few small gestures go a long way!
Under the rainbow
One of the best ways to properly welcome LGBTQ+ attendees is by respectfully and appropriately including the rainbow flag in your event. As an internationally-recognized symbol, its inclusion will give the immediate impression that your event is a safe space – and the thing about a rainbow is it looks good just about anywhere.
Make space – but no assumptions – for identity
Ensure to let your attendees take the lead on their individual gender expressions from registration forward, by asking for their pronouns on forms. Train your on-site staff to stay vigilant on attendee identity, and also ensure their body language is open and friendly. (A worthwhile tip is also to never ask for one’s “preferred” pronoun, but just simply their pronoun).
A place for everyone
While not every venue is presently outfitted with gender neutral bathrooms, it’s important to make sure everyone feels they’ve got a place to take care of business. More and more hotels and venues (like Montréal’s Hotel 10) feature unisex stalls and common handwashing areas, but if only binary bathrooms are available, work with your host location in posting new signage. Something as simple as “urinals & stalls” and “stalls only” instead of “Men’s” and “Ladies” is a small change your guests will deeply appreciate.
It all comes down to respect – and it’s also OK to ask! If you do make a mistake, simply apologize and ask to be corrected. By showing all attendees that they’re valued equally, everyone will feel welcome.
Share the love within – and all about
Ensure to foster diversity from within your organization – an effort that will be quickly noticed by your LGBTQ+ attendees. And there’s no better way to let your guests know the lay of the land than sharing knowledge of the city’s LGBTQ+ history and events. Montréal’s Gay Village is North America’s oldest and largest, and within walking distance from the city’s conference centre the Palais des congrès de Montréal. And by reaching out in advance to groups like Queer Tech MTL and Pride Hacks, you’ll make some lasting connections between your team, local leaders and attendees that will leave a lasting effect.
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