Hearing their voices and counting them in: The place of Canadian LGBTQ police officers in police culture

Joe L. Couto

Abstract


The growing presence of LGBTQ police officers and civilian personnel within police organizations, their presence at LGBTQ community events, increased recruitment efforts, and the emergence of LGBTQ advocacy groups within polic-ing invites research into the lived experiences of these police service members. My 2014 study of 21 LGBTQ sworn police officers in Ontario revealed that most officers believe their status and relationships in their workplaces are more positive today compared to other eras. However, it also found that they believe that police culture fundamentally retains a hyper-masculine and heterosexual orientation. A subsequent study of the intersectionality of gender and sexual orientation for gay female sworn police officers found that being “female” and being “gay” exposes LGBTQ female police officers to challenges regarding both their gender and their sexual orientation—specifically workplace harassment and having to conform to masculine “norms”. However, the research also suggests that these and other challenges in a police environ-ment based on sexual orientation are not as overt as those based on gender alone. Understanding such subtle differences is vital to creating inclusive and supportive work environments in which LGBTQ members can thrive and contribute as their authentic selves and find legitimacy and respect as police professionals.


Keywords


Policing; police culture; LGBTQ; diversity; organizational culture

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