This month many companies will turn their logos rainbow-colored to signal support for LGBTQIA+ folks. Do their actions match their performative support?
In nearly every state across the country, legislation is being introduced and passed in an effort to erase the history of LGBTQIA+ individuals and outlaw even the mention of gay or trans individuals. This just happened in the state I grew up in (from CNN): “Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds signed a sweeping bill into law Friday that will restrict education about gender identity and sexual orientation and ban books with certain sexual content from school libraries, as well as require schools to notify parents if their child asks to use a new name or pronoun.”
When I was in fifth grade (imagine it’s the 80’s, and I looked like one of the kids from Stranger Things), I vividly recall the day when our class was separated by boys and girls to give us our respective sex education. I recall some of the questions that were asked, one of the children brought up the topic of being gay. I remember the counselor diffusing any opposition to being gay, saying that it’s okay. He wasn’t overtly encouraging it. He wasn’t flying rainbow flags. He simply provided validation that gay people exist, and it’s okay. There was something about that day, even though I didn’t fully acknowledge or realize I was gay at the time, that I was okay. We didn’t learn about the details of gay sex, and it wasn’t promoted, but some part deep inside of me was comforted. We did learn about the details of heterosexual sex though, yet somehow it didn’t turn me straight.
Based on the bill that Gov. Reynolds just signed into law, that same conversation that I was afforded in the 80’s would be illegal today. My school counselor would lose his job. This frightens me! Until I moved away to college, that single moment in 5th grade was the only moment that taught me that I was okay. The budding feelings I was experiencing didn’t mean I was a bad person. It validated me. Without that, I may not be here to write this article. Let me be very clear. This law will have a directly negative impact on adolescent suicide. Kids in Laurens, Iowa will no longer have the validation from their school counselor that I received.
What does this have to do with company logos? Corporations have the power to change laws; they do it every day. They wield their profits by creating legislation that bolsters their bottom line, support issues that make it easier for them to do business, and for some, influence laws related to human rights. Kudos to Disney for going toe to toe with the governor of Florida. It’s messy, but they know it’s a fight worth fighting. It’s been interesting to see other organizations completely bungle their PR when it comes to LGBTQIA+ issues, alienating both sides of the conversation. I’ve done a search for some of them today, and thankfully they haven’t rainbowed their logos – yet.
My business, Performance Accelerated Learning, won’t be rainbowing our logo for June. We live it every day of the year. We strive to advance belonging for individuals through our work in the Creating Belonging book, podcast, workshop, and various speaking engagements. In fact, we’re celebrating Pride Month with a free Creating Belonging workshop! We also help organizations reduce bias in the hiring process through our Bias Interrupted Hiring workshop.
It’s not enough to turn your logo rainbow colors for the month of June – companies need to support our causes every day of the year. Pay attention to the actions of those organizations turning their logos rainbow-colored this month. Are they speaking out and taking actions to stop hateful and non-inclusive legislation? The very life of one of your loved ones may depend on it.