Today is Lesbian Day of Visibility. A day where we celebrate and acknowledge the lives and contributions of members of the lesbian community. This year, we are proud to profile some of our members and share what Lesbian Day of Visibility means to them.
Police Sergeant Louise Beale – Police Scotland
I am Louise, a Police Sergeant in Police Scotland. I have previously worked in West Yorkshire Police and then Lothian and Borders before the amalgamation to Police Scotland. I am currently the General Secretary of the Scottish LGBTI Police Association.
“You can’t be what you can’t see”, the wise words of Marie Wilson continue to strongly resonate with me to this day and especially within policing. It is just over 100 years since Edith Smith became the UK’s first female police officer and since then there have been significant changes and increase in representation of women. In Police Scotland around 32% of police officers are women; huge progress has been made with increasing representation. Slowly, this will be the same for representation of the LGBT community within all walks of life, including policing.
In 2017 Dame Cressida Dick, the current commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, publically came “out” making her the highest ranking gay officer in UK policing and a role model for many. For a variety of reasons, there are still members of the LGBT community who do not feel safe to be “Out” at work within policing. People need the self-confidence to be their authentic selves but also have confidence in the organisation. Currently, many staff and officers in UK policing “choose not to disclose” when it comes to identifying their sexual orientation, thereby showing we have a long way to go still. This is important because the police must attract and retain the best people for the job including those who are from minority groups. In the UK, we police by consent. To do so legitimately we must be reflective of the communities we serve, that includes those from often “invisible minorities” of the LGBT community. It makes sense that we need more visible role models in policing to encourage others to follow suit.
In recent weeks I was confided in by a colleague who was inspired to train in Public Order after seeing me on duty as being the only female Public Order Officer at an organised event. As a Public Order officer and a Public Order Medic, I am in the minority in this role, but it never occurred to me that by just being visible I can inspire others. This cements my view that being visible on days like these hugely important.