Rotary International celebrated its 118th birthday on 23rd February.

When the international service organisation Rotary was founded 118 years ago, membership was reserved for “adult male persons of good character and good business or professional reputation,” as outlined in its then Constitution.

Women were not officially allowed to be members of Rotary Clubs until the 1980s when the US Supreme Court ruled that Rotary could not exclude women based on gender.

And, of course, some people were not officially excluded but often made to feel unwelcome in practice, including members of the LGBT+ community.

This has earned Rotary a reputation for being a white, homophobic, and transphobic men’s club.

But two current Rotary members say that well-established organisations like Rotary can become more diverse and inclusive with the right approach.

Grant Godino is President of the Rotary LGBT+ Fellowship, which promotes education and inclusivity globally within Rotary.

Stacie-Mei Laccohee-Duffield is a Board Member of the Rotary LGBT+ Fellowship. She came out as a trans lesbian woman when she was a member of the Rotary Club of Ellenbrook in Western Australia, which she is still part of today. She says Rotary’s membership is “so much more diverse than white males” and that Rotary can be an integral part of creating social acceptance of the LGBT+ community.

Grant and Stacie-Mei have helped develop the Rotary LGBT+ Inclusion Toolkit, which guides Rotary members through assessing their Club’s level of inclusivity and implementing changes to become more inclusive.

LOTL chats with Stacie and Grant on how organisations like Rotary can embrace diversity: