5 Teaching Notes: Scenario on Homophobia at Work

Note to teachers:

The scenario deals with sensitive and controversial issues and discussing it may be upsetting for some students, especially those who identify in similar ways to Dale. Please provide context  about Indigenous issues (particularly in Canada) and LGBTQ2+ issues, especially context that challenges common assumptions. This context would help prepare students for a robust but respectful discussion. Please see the bibliography below or seek other like sources from your own Diversity and Inclusion specialists, Indigenous advisors, or educational supports.

It is important not to generalize language with Indigenous people. You will commonly see Indigenous people use the terms Indian, Aboriginal, First Nations and Indigenous interchangeably, but this language choice is not an option for non-Indigenous people. It is okay to interject to say some language is inappropriate. Most Indigenous peoples prefer to be identified by the name of their specific Nation, tribe, or band. Check with Indigenous advisors at your institution.

What will students discuss?

  • As relevant to course learning outcomes, students will be able to discuss any of the following:
  • gender stereotyping, bias, racism, tokenism
  • Indigenous racism
  • homophobia
  • humour at work
  • diversity, equity and inclusion, belonging, justice, dignity, human rights
  • mental health at work
  • professionalism, organizational development, leadership
  • human resources, talent management
  • policy making and enforcement
  • internal communication, organizational culture
  • strategic communications, strategic planning
  • public relations
  • approaches to decision making and persuasion
  • mutual care and safety at work
  • other relevant topics

Students may argue that a member of a marginalized group should speak up and represent their constituent population, or they may argue that for reasons of personal safety, the member should be silent and try to blend in.

Students may argue that bystanders should stand up against discrimination in their organization.

Students may choose to argue for a mandated or a voluntary approach from Human Resources, leadership or institution-wide committees. They may be guided to discuss the merits and barriers to implementing any of the following ideas or others.

 Internal practices – mandated

  • Strategic planning
  • Enforceable policies
  • Talent management/hiring practices
  • Diversity and inclusion programs and workshops
  • Anti-racist, anti-homophobic workshops

Internal culture – voluntary

  • Leadership personal storytelling
  • LGBTQ2+ network/committee
  • Multicultural network/committee
  • Indigenous network/committee
  • Connections with Indigenous communities
  • Social gatherings/celebrations
  • Internal intelligence about who works there: maps/languages/stories of heritage shared at meetings, in celebrations, etc.
  • Ally programs/safe spaces, desks with pride flags

Students may brainstorm ideas for actions senior leadership could take to improve the company’s reputation. They may be guided to discuss the merits and barriers to implementing any of the following:

  • Leaders take training as above or otherwise
  • Do public speaking/presentations/videos about improvements the company is making
  • Publish report cards on diversity and inclusion programs
  • Start dialogues within industry on social media about barriers to improvement
  • Champion employees publicly (with their consent)
  • Get involved in philanthropy
  • Offer scholarships
  • Promote and partner with smaller businesses that are Indigenous or LGBTQ2+ owned
  • Have senior leadership visit affected towns and Indigenous communities


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“Teaching Notes: Scenario on Homophobia at Work?  by Deirdre Maultsaid & Gregory John is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International

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Cases on Social Issues: For Class Discussion Copyright © 2022 by Deirdre Maultsaid and Gregory John is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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