As the first day of Pride Month, I wanted to talk about the connection between sustainability, accountability, responsibility, and the LGBTQIA2S+ community. Before I dive too deep into this connection, I first thought it necessary to go through that acronym, since the acronym has grown over the last couple years. LGBTQ stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer/ Questioning. However, we continue: “I” stands for intersex, “A” stands for asexual, “2S” stands for Two Spirit, and the “+” acknowledges the nuances of personal identity and sexual orientation.
So, what’s the connection?
Museums have a responsibility to acknowledge the nuances of personal identity and sexual orientation, a duty to be inclusive when it comes to making someone feel welcome. Part of the conversation is about accessibility. I’m not necessarily talking about ramps and automatic doors or buttons, although those are part of the accessibility conversation. I’m talking about bathrooms. I’m talking about workplace culture. I’m talking about sustainable practices and mindsets that are open to discussing ways that museum spaces can be more welcoming and accommodating to their visitors.
Let’s start with the mindset because that informs actions and what visitors experience. In western society, we love our boxes, binaries, and hate the messiness of human-ness. Implementing and fostering a workplace culture that understands the messiness of human-ness is vital for museums to serve their publics. This includes:
· acknowledging and supporting your publics during hardships and adjusting admissions/ ticket prices;
· knowing your publics’ demographics and bringing in interpreters, adjusting event times, providing childcare services during your events, etc.;
· focusing your grant writing on bringing in workshops that teach the community skills they may be missing, to provide resume and cover letter writing sessions, to learn languages, or study sessions for the SAT/ACT/GRE tests.
The list can go on and on—because it’s about supporting your community in any way you can.
And this trickles down into things like, bathrooms. By placing menstrual products in both a men’s and women’s restroom means that transgender visitors know that they are welcome in that space. It’s such a simple thing to do. There may be backlash from visitors or even staff who question why there are pads and tampons next to the sinks or in the stalls. Making sure your mindset is on track can keep a unified message to and from staff.
Keeping your finger on the pulse of what moves your community is one way to always be relevant, always be of service, and to truly be a community center, like museums are supposed to be. That is looking out not only for the longevity of your institution but for the longevity of your community and its happiness and wellbeing.
Sarah Hixson (she/her/hers) is an emerging art museum curator and educator. If you have questions for her, comment below or send us an email at email@example.com.