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Fighting discrimination with SFRS equality and diversity officer Maggie Archibald

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A fire and rescue service equality and diversity officer has told how growing up and feeling unable to talk about her sexual orientation for fear of harassment was “exhausting”.

Maggie Archibald grew up in East Lothian and felt unable to discuss her sexual orientation with anyone after witnessing bullying and even violence against the LGBT+ community.

The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service Equality and Diversity Officer says the experience left a lasting impact on her mental health – and it wouldn’t be until she went to college that she worked up the courage to share her sexual orientation with friends and family.

However, as the Service marks LGBT History Month, Maggie is sharing her story to help others learn from her experiences and highlight that everyday life can continue to be a challenge for any LGBT person.

Maggie said: “Coming out is never easy and it’s something that LGBT people do throughout their lives and that, in itself, can be exhausting.

“Every time you start a new job, join a new club or even just walk down the street you need to watch what you say and do for fear of how other people will react. Never being able to talk, openly and honestly, about what you’ve done at the weekend is mentally draining.

"Growing up life was really difficult. I feared being outed, ostracised and, most of all, abandoned by my family.

“It caused me a lot of anxiety and unhappiness because I couldn't be myself but my story, or a very similar one, could be told by countless LGBT people then and now."

As part of her role with SFRS, Maggie is striving to break down barriers for other members of the LGBT community. She is assisting with bespoke recruitment events for LGBT people to demonstrate they can enjoy a career with an organisation like the SFRS while being their authentic selves. 

"I've never experienced anything negative within my role and don't believe I am treated any differently. My sexual orientation does not define me, but it is part of who I am.

"The SFRS has to be a diverse organisation and we need a mix of people with different experiences and backgrounds, because diverse and inclusive organisations are successful organisations."

For more information about LGBT History month, visit: https://www.lgbthistory.org.uk/

 

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