Using gender-considerate language in restaurants should be the norm in Seattle, especially on Capitol Hill. Gender-considerate language means using language that does not gender people, i.e., “How are y’all doing this evening?” or “How can I help the two of you this evening?.” Seattle strives to be a LGBTQI-friendly city, but continuing to misgender staff at work or customers while they dine is not friendly. Capitol Hill was once a thriving LGBTQI safe neighborhood. However, it has been carelessly gentrified, and there are few safe places for LGBTQI people to frequent on the Hill.
The LGBTQI community is not monolithic and, although not all LGBTQI individuals gravitate to the Hill, many more vulnerable and marginalized people living in the area do and need a space to be visible, connect with community, enjoy queer art, politically organize and connect with our history. In many ways, that has been taken away from us. If restaurants on the Hill and throughout Seattle commit to providing gender-considerate spaces for enjoyment, safety, inclusivity and respectful hospitality, the Hill would be a safer space for all.
But addressing gender inclusiveness in restaurants is not enough. Disproportionately, LGBTQI employees work in the restaurant industry, and unfortunately, these professions are often low-wage jobs. In Washington state, 21 percent of all workers who earn minimum wage are in the hospitality industry. Through LGBTQ Allyship’s 2015 survey of 1,100 LGBTQI individuals, we found that 30 percent cannot pay their bills and 68 percent live paycheck-to-paycheck. In a society that has become less safe for trans and gender non-conforming individuals and all LGBTQI individuals, economic safety and stability is equally as important to our community.
The impacts of race, gender, homelessness and disabilities are challenging for LGBTQI youth in obtaining and maintaining economic safety.
Just recently, LGBTQ Allyship led a training with New Horizon’s staff around workers’ rights for LGBTQI homeless youth workers. Not surprising, the most challenging barriers for LGBTQI homeless youth workers were a lack of gender-considerate language and accommodating disabilities in the workplace, as well as navigating the hiring process if you have a criminal record. The impacts of race, gender, homelessness and disabilities are challenging for LGBTQI youth in obtaining and maintaining economic safety.
LGBTQ Allyship, an economic and social justice organization bettering the lives of LGBTQI communities, is kicking off its “Talk Gender To Me” project with a multi-restaurant happy hour on April 19. The project engages restaurant owners, managers and staff in a dialogue and free hospitality training around gender-considerate language in the workplace and information about Seattle’s Six Labor Standards, or workers’ protections. The training includes resources for workers if their rights have been violated and for employers to ensure they are adhering to the law. Restaurants are invited to take the “Talk Gender to Me” pledge, agreeing to a gender-considerate language and workers’ protection training. LGBTQ Allyship is committed to supporting employers and their staff to retraining themselves to embrace gender-considerate language and a respectful hospitality and fair employment practices while striving to create a safe and inclusive space for all customers and employees. Restaurants that take the “Talk Gender To Me” pledge will be acknowledged on LGBTQ Allyships’ website and social media as socially responsible and LGBTQI-affirming restaurants in Seattle.
Customer participation is encouraged! On April 19, three amazing restaurants on Capitol Hill celebrating the kick-off of the project with a happy hour, sponsored by Tito’s Homemade Vodka: Coastal Kitchen, 429 15th Avenue E, from 3 – 6 p.m.; Bar Vacilando, 405 15th Ave E, from 4 – 6 p.m.; and the Wildrose Bar, 1021 E. Pike, from 4 – 8 p.m. Let’s talk gender and ensure Seattle is a great place eat and work!
“Talk Gender to Me” is sponsored by the Restaurant Opportunity Center Seattle, Greater Seattle Business Association, Seattle UTOPIA, Capitol Hill EcoDistrict committee, Entre Hermanos, SASG and POCAAN.
You can make a difference. Next time you frequent your favorite restaurant, ask them if they have taken the “Talk Gender to Me” pledge and refer them to our website for more info.
Debbie Carlsen is the executive director of LGBTQ Allyship.
Wait, there's more. Check out the full April 18 - April 24 issue.