The editors of the British Dental Journal should watch their back after publishing a letter by S Worthington, who rather dissents from the progressive agenda: –

‘Sir, I have been asked to consider wearing a rainbow lanyard at work to send a clear message of support to the LGBT+ community…I became concerned about the potential distress to other patient groups caused by such a personal display.’

Had anyone heard the word ‘lanyard’ in the last century?  Whereas before we simply had badges identifying the bearer, now the suspending strap has taken prominence. You can wear the organisation’s standard version, or you can choose the rainbow colours. Like the word ‘gay’, this joy of nature has been captured by the LGBT movement. Look around an open-plan office and you’ll see that the rainbow is ubiquitous, undoubtedly influenced by peer pressure. You don’t need to be gay to send the message: ‘I am tolerant and inclusive and I celebrate diversity’.

Imagine a football match in which some players, from both sides, don a rainbow shirt instead of the team colours. Or more seriously, consider a situation in which someone has reported a homophobic incident to the police, and the attending constables have rainbow patches on their uniform. Unintentionally, a virtuous show of support for LGBT could be perceived as bias, with serious consequences for the accused.  Uniformed ranks participate in Pride marches, a politicisation that undermines public confidence in fair policing. And this is my argument about the rainbow lanyard: like any other vehicle of identity politics, it does more harm than good.

I know several gay people (including close friends and family) who do not feel a need to project their sexual orientation in the workplace; some for reasons of privacy, others because they dislike being primarily defined by their sexuality. Writer Douglas Murray, for example, is happy for people to know that he is gay but never publicises himself as such.

Inevitably the correspondent to the dental journal will be falsely accused of bigotry for raising his reasonable concern that a rainbow lanyard could make some people feel uncomfortable. While about two per-cent of the population is gay, over half is Christian and about a tenth Muslim. Many people of faith may be unbothered by a multi-coloured strap or what it signifies, but some devout followers regard homosexuality as a sin that should not be promoted in public services. Similarly, if most of the workforce was wearing a pro-Islam or pro-Christian lanyard, a gay person with experience of religious discrimination might feel offended.

As Worthingon argued, it would be wrong for any practitioners to declare their hostility to LGBT or religion on clinical premises. All patients deserved to be treated without prejudice, and they should also be treated without favour. As in other health professions, the professional code in dentistry states: ‘You must not express your personal beliefs (including religious, political or moral beliefs) to patients in any way that could cause them distress.’ After all, patients are there for dental work, not moral correction. Worthington concluded: –

‘LGBT+ patients can, and should, be helped to feel more comfortable with posters or leaflets in a waiting area, but a dentist’s surgery should remain an apolitical space.’

The dogma of identity politics is based on a flawed belief that differences must be emphasised. For many years in England it was received wisdom that school uniforms are an authoritarian anachronism, but the thousands of schools that went mufti destroyed morale and unleashed bullying of poorer or unfashionable pupils. Current ideology is likely to cause more division, not less.

For sure, the most inclusive strap for a name badge is a uniform colour. Sexual orientation is a protected characteristic under the Equality Act, but it is not a special characteristic overriding normal dress code. Service users don’t want to know what service providers do in their bedrooms, and if any virtue is to be signalled it should be about the quality of service – not favouring of any client group.

Author: Niall McCrae

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