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To the surprise of nobody, users on Mumsnet really don’t like the NHS LGBT+ rainbow badges

Emma Powys Maurice September 19, 2019

The rainbow badges were introduced by the NHS to promote inclusion and support LGBT+ patients (Twitter/@EvelinaLondon)

The latest outcry from the online parenting forum Mumsnet concerns the NHS’s LGBT+ rainbow badges, which commenters claim are “divisive political symbols”.

The rainbow pins were introduced in March, and aim to address the challenges that LGBT+ people often face in accessing healthcare by indicating that staff are supportive and happy to discuss their needs.

The badges are optional to wear but have become a bone of contention for some Mumsnetters, who made their views clear when a NHS worker wrote to the forum seeking advice.

Writing under the username ‘YesIWorkForTheNHS’, the poster wrote: “They’re bringing in rainbow badges and lanyards at my trust. Anyone want to help me disentangle/articulate what I think about this?

“On the one hand, I want to be inclusive (in the sense that I want everyone to have equal access to healthcare, and remove barriers – real or perceived – to people accessing what we offer).

“But biological sex matters, particularly in healthcare, and I think we should be held to high standards with respect to equality of access for everyone (including women and girls) whether or not we are wearing stripy accessories.”

The badge indicates staff are “inclusive of all identities” (Twitter/@EvelinaLondon)

The post attracted more than 80 responses, with the vast majority disagreeing with the rainbow badges.

“I reject the rainbow. I hate all it stands for and believe it is anti female,” said one angry user. “I find it distasteful that what is essentially a men’s movement is wheedling itself into schools, businesses, politics and organisations across the land, pushing women aside and promoting gay erasion.”

Another poster agreed: “Unfortunately for me the rainbow symbol has morphed into something I associate with bigotry and commercialism.”

A further poster wrote: “Until the rainbow is no longer appropriated by a movement that seeks to remove rights and protections for women, I’ll not be engaging with it never mind wearing it. Normalising this stuff helps promote the idea that ‘everyone else is on board’ and that’s strategic. It’s a no from me.”

A healthcare provider joined the discussion to explain the importance of the pins. “By wearing it, two teens approached me with concerns that meant my care of them was more person-centred and orientated to their specific needs rather than catering to the masses,” they said. “I was glad that the symbolism attached to it encouraged them to speak to me directly.”

But many felt that the badges were unnecessary as LGBT+ people are already protected under the Equality Act, and healthcare providers are meant to provide tailored, non-judgemental service to all.

This argument ignores research which proves LGBT+ people face widespread discrimination in healthcare settings, with lesbian and bisexual women’s health in particular being “invisible” in the UK discourse.

Other commenters insisted that they weren’t intolerant, but objected to the badges on the basis that LGBT+ equality is a ‘political statement’ and hospitals should be non-partisan. One even called the badges “a display of institutional capture”.

NHS staff proudly wearing the rainbow badge (Twitter/@EvelinaLondon)

A lesbian Mumsnetter wrote: “This isn’t a neutral ‘we welcome LGBT people here’ thing, it’s a political statement of affiliation to political lobby, no different to wearing Momentum badges or UKIP badges.”

She claimed that such symbols indicate the wearer is “signed up to a political lobby that seeks to deny women the freedom to be homosexual and rejects their right to exclude males from their bodies if those males say the right words”.

She continued: “This is also the symbol of removing single sex spaces and same-sex healthcare providers from women, and just plain rejecting those women whose religion, faith, disability, trauma, fear and embarrassment or just plain choice precludes this. But will be recorded as committing a hate crime if they say so.”

The rainbow badges are now being worn in NHS Trusts across the country (Twitter/@GMMH_NHS)

Many agreed with her, but one commenter expressed concern. “I honestly don’t understand why Mumsnet is so anti anything that’s supportive of gay and lesbian people?” they wrote.

“I am honestly so horrified and bewildered that just because ‘T’ has been added to LGB, so many people flatly refuse to support anything LGBT and basically throw gay and lesbian people under a bus, because they’d rather all LGBT people suffer than be seen as being pro-trans.”

The site’s stance on LGBT+ issues.

It’s not the first time Mumsnetters have fallen afoul of the LGBT+ community.

In July, commenters decided to boycott the Co-op over an advertisement for strawberries featuring a trans woman. The ad stated that money from sales of the strawberries would go to LGBT+ organisations and Trans Pride.

“FFS,” wrote one user. “I like the co op, I like their fair trade ethics. Now I can’t buy from them because I do not support the current mass delusion that trans woman are women and that my and my daughters rights are less important than theirs.”

The thread was subsequently deleted by the Mumsnet moderation team for violating the site’s policies, and several trans people added strawberries to their Twitter handles in defiance.

Mumsnet stance on anti-trans posts.

In 2018, Mumsnet issued a new moderation policy after receiving criticism for a surge of anti-trans rhetoric on the site.

The statement introducing the new guidelines began by saying that Mumsnet stood “in solidarity” with oppressed minorities while being “committed to freedom of speech”.

The guidelines clarified: “We don’t allow posts which are derogatory or aggressive towards trans people.”

PinkNews contacted Mumsnet to enquire as to whether they plan to delete the thread about NHS rainbow badges.

Mumsnet founder Justine Roberts said: “Mumsnet is committed to freedom of speech, as long as comments don’t break our talk guidelines.

“The thread about the introduction of rainbow lanyards contains a mix of views from users including members of the LGBTQ+ community. Some are very supportive of the initiative, while others say that as professionals they treat all people with the same respect and level of care and don’t need a rainbow lanyard to do so.”

More: LGBT healthcare, Mumsnet, NHS, Rainbow Badges

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