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LGBT architects in or out?

A recent LGBT+ survey carried out by The Architects' Journal shows that the number of openly gay, lesbian, transgender and bisexual architects who are open about their sexuality has fallen over the last two years.

The number of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people who are "out" in architecture has dropped to 73%. The last time data was collected in 2016 it showed that 80% of respondents were out. For respondents outside of London, the percentage of people who are open about their sexuality in the industry drops to around 62%.

Homophobic abuse is increasing - According to the survey, the number of people in architecture who have heard homophobic or transphobic insults being used in the workplace has risen to 39%, which is up from 37% previously.

It's also been revealed that the number of architects who feel that their sexuality creates barriers to them being able to progress in their careers has increased from 24% in 2016 to 30% in this recent survey.

The results of the recent survey show that attitudes towards sexuality in architecture are becoming more negative as the year's progress, and according to a transgender woman and associate director at Williams Lester Lisa Sumner, this is a reflection of the changes that the UK has seen since the result of the Brexit referendum.

Many believe that the negativity spread during the campaign for Brexit has had an impact on today's society, and when looking at the results of this recent survey, it's difficult to argue with this. Compared with previous years, it seems that in recent years, being open about sexuality in architecture is just as difficult now as it has ever been for individuals.

LGBT architects should be made to feel welcome  - Even though the survey shows that attitudes are negative towards the LGBT community, there's still some fantastic work being done to promote inclusivity and ensure that sexuality and gender isn't a barrier to career progression. I feel that it is so important that architects feel comfortable to be open about themselves in their work circles and companies have an important role to play.

Conversations about sexuality and gender should be normalised and become part of the mainstream so that everybody working in architecture feels comfortable to be open and honest about who they really are, without the fear of prejudice and negativity.

As I approached my office desk and took my first sip of the day earlier, I observed my colleagues working and chatting happily among themselves, just as they always do, regardless of their sexuality and gender.  It was then that I realised we take it for granted that being comfortable with each other is the norm. I then stopped to think about people that are excluded in the workplace and how that could impact on their lives. If I’m being honest, I could only conclude that it must be a living hell. I can only scratch the surface of how it must feel to be excluded and my attempt of putting myself in their shoes for just a moment would be seen, by many, as a pretty pathetic one.

Posted by: Josh Seddon

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