LGBT+ survey reveals decreasing number of architects “out” at work

The Architects’ Journal’s LGBT+ survey shows the number architects who are openly lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender in British practices has fallen over the past two years.

According to the results of the survey, the number lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) respondents who said they are “out” in their practice has dropped to 73 per cent.

This compares to 80 per cent of respondents the last time data was collected by the Architects’ Journal (AJ) in 2016.

Outside of London, the percentage of LGBT+ respondents open about their sexuality or gender in the office drops even further to just 62 per cent.

Homophobic and transphobic slurs on the rise

Also the number of architects who have “heard homophobic and/or transphobic slurs being used as insults in the workplace”, has also risen to 39 per cent from 37 per cent, over the same period.

The survey also reveals a rise in the number of LGBT+ architects who feel “being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender has created barriers to career progression”. This number has risen from 24 per cent in 2016 to 30 per cent.

Nearly 250 LGBT+ architects responded to the survey. Founding member of LGBT+ property professional networking group Freehold, Chris Edwards, told the AJ the results were “very disheartening”.

Results reflect “a less tolerant society”

The results are a reflection of negative changes in the UK since Brexit, according to Lisa Sumner, an associate director at Williams Lester and a transgender woman.

“We have become a less tolerant society recently,” she said. “Statistics show increased levels of hate crime and homophobia following the Brexit vote.”

“The media is also more open in attacking LGBT rights, with opinion pieces openly saying what was unacceptable a couple of years ago, particularly against trans rights. All this is discouraging for anyone contemplating coming out at work.”

Dieter Bentley-Gockmann, director of EPR Architects, added: “I fear the social antagonism that arose in the wake of Brexit, which is being exacerbated by the ‘Trump effect’ and divisive commentators on social media, may be having an impact in the workplace.

“As a result it appears that LGBT+ architects are less willing or confident to be open about their sexual orientation or gender identity.”

In total 1,100 people responded to survey run in collaboration with New Civil Engineer and Construction News.

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