A joint statement from BVLGBT+ and BVEDS for Pride Month 2020.
We stand together as proud members of the veterinary profession.
June is Pride month, when in normal times LGBT+ people march, celebrate and most importantly remember those who have faced and face discrimination for being themselves. Our profession has made huge progress and our professional bodies lead the way in accepting LGBT+ people, but many individuals still experience discrimination in their working lives, particularly our trans colleagues.
George Floyd’s terrible death and the protests that followed have shown us very starkly the pain and upset that black people experience. It raises questions for all of us about race and racism in different contexts, including in our working lives. We know that our profession is not representative of the people of the UK – 97% of vets are white. We also know that in a 2019 BVA survey, 27% of cases of discrimination witnessed by others were based on race, and that half of the discrimination reported was by one member of the profession against another.
Discrimination blights lives, whether based on race, sex, sexuality or gender Identity. The trans woman mocked at work and unsupported by her employer; the black vet turned away from farms because of his colour – these are stories from our profession today. Now is the time for all of us to pause and consider our part in it.
For most of us, our work is based around the use of evidence and the exercise of compassion. It is time to use these skills to scrutinise ourselves and how we interact and behave toward those who are different to us, and particularly our Black, asian and minority ethnic (BAME) colleagues. We need to recognise the problem of racism, educate ourselves on the experience of our BAME colleagues, understand our own often unconscious bias and act to change our profession for the better.
The Pride movement arose out of struggle sparked by the Stonewall riots. In the chaos of the police attack on the Stonewall Inn in 1969 a young black drag queen, Marsha Johnson, fought back and has become a hero for many. But her race, her sexuality and gender identity left her on the margins, excluded at times even by the gay and lesbian community. Her life is a lesson to all of us – LGBT+ and BAME, straight and white – about the consequences of exclusion and discrimination.
BVEDS and BVLGBT+ have common cause in fighting discrimination. We will work together to support our members, to share their stories with the wider profession and to campaign for change. We need our colleagues to support us.
Tom Doyle MRCVS, President
British Veterinary LGBT+ Association
British Veterinary Ethnicity and Diversity Society