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Sexual Monitoring

05:02

Sexual monitoring

Today, monitoring sexual orientation has become as accepted a method of promoting “good practice” in the voluntary sector as monitoring ethnicity. Kyle Duncan argues it is an unnecessary, intrusive and even absurd category to monitor. It achieves nothing for genuine equality, equality of opportunity or tolerance. In fact, he suggests, it does damage to seriously progressive campaigning for these things. Read Kyle’s article here.

Related topics: Civil Liberties

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Aisha said:

in response to M Juniper. how does disclosing your sexuality on a form deal with discrimination? when an initiative to deal with discrimination is form filling and monitoring, then it IS just arbitrary box ticking Im afraid. I don’t know how you would quantify “a lot” of volunteers/workers being anti-gay. I don’t have statistics to support it but i think that might be an overstatement. While I am sure that this is a serious issue, i do not think people with anti gay views constitute the majority. it’s their anti gay behaivour that needs to be reported to combat the problem, not people’s sexuality.

M Juniper said:

The criticism is fair enough perhaps but surely this is an attempt to deal with the fact of discrimination to expose it and deal with it, it is not arbitrary tick boxing. A lot of workers in the voluntary sector are anti-gay as are many volunteers how does Kyle propose we deal with this then ?

Denise said:

When I started work twentysomething years ago, sexual orientation wasn’t an issue, in fact I don’t remeber having to ‘tick’ very many boxes at all. So, can someone please tell me, why is it such an issue now? Had Kyle been born 20 years earlier, he’d never have been asked who he’s prefered sleeping partner was, so again, why now?

youth worker said:

What are these sexual orientiation issues Anne below speaks about?

volunteer manager said:

I agree with many of Kyle’s comments on this futile ‘box ticking’ pandemic.
I think most people/organisations include these boxes on forms because they have been told to or feel they should to cover their backs – neither of which will make a blind bit of difference to securing a greater social equality.
Does an ever increasingly intrusive registration form really improve the accessibility of a service or opportunity?

Rani said:

Monitoring forms just turn people and the things they do as social human beings into statistics to be measured and scrutinised by bigger systems. Why aren’t we able to be natural in our interaction with each other rather than being forcefed and directed in certain directions to do as and talk to who we’re told to?

Anne said:

Monitoring for sexual orientation is impractical since one can just ignore the box or lie. If one wishes to monitor the sexual orientation of volunteers, another way to do it could be not on entry, but 3/6 months on, once they’ve been accepted and know that the monitoring is not being done on sinister grounds.
I believe that monitoring is important; it is not a substitute for action, but a test of whether an organisation’s policies & procedures on diversity are effective. It tells you about your workforce (including volunteers) and your client group: who is attracted to your organisation and who stays. I delivered Eq & Diversity training to colleagues for several years – I found that equal opps for many people meant race issues, and gender and sexual orientation issues were sidelined. Discrimination isn’t something that we can fix once for all – it requires ongoing awareness, alertness, and -in a working context – monitoring to check the situation. The fact is that there are groups of people who are discriminated against in the playground, the workplace, etc and they won’t always speak up.

Kyle (WORLDwrite) said:

To respond to the Volunteer Manager below, I really don’t see how asking people who they sleep with ensures inclusion; it simply means that people who are already through an organisation’s door have to answer questions about their private life. Furthermore, I’m sure that more young people would choose to “self-exclude” themselves from organisations that they know will ask them about their sexuality on their application form than organisations that don’t, simply because they don’t want to pass this information out. Therefore it’s hard to see how asking people about sexuality guarantees inclusion. Finally, what proportion of LGBT people would say they feel excluded from any given activity or opportunity? I’m sure some do, but i’m also sure that many do not, which could potentially invalidate the entire concern.

viv at WORLDwrite said:

I just wanted to respond to the below comment and say we too do not include this question in our 1 form, in fact we do not ask for a lot of information. I think it is really important to put something in the report back to funders, which we will be doing and did.

volunteer charity said:

Including this question on our registration forms is completely pointless. the charity ‘v’ expects its projects to monitor the sexuality of all its volunteers. we work with teenage volunteers and would not dream of asking them what their sexuality is! so we have just not included this in any of our monitoring reports. It drives me mad especially as v are all about numbers & statistics like this, not about the projects or volunteers. We will be coming to end of year reporting of our first year and am wondering whether this has been an issue for any other charities, and whether to expect ‘v’ to question it?

volunteer manager said:

I get what you are saying but the reason for this monitoring is so groups aren’t left out, excluded from opportunities. Isn’t this important Kyle?

tony said:

Well said Kyle! Such monitoring has at it’s heart a false premise – that certain sections of society are vulnerable and need to be protected.

esme said:

I think you are right…I have had to ask these questions and it led to the young people I work with not wanting to answer any questions, they felt it was intrusive and non of anyones buisness. I think we should seak our similarities not differences and stop pigeon holing everyone

Kez said:

I think you are right Kyle, we must promoting diversity and fighting discrimination (colour, sexual orientation, social category). I want, I dream a world where we are not talking to white or black, African or European, poor or rich and other but a world where we just talking to each other as fellow human beings.