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International Day against Homophobia, Biphobia, and Transphobia

colour photograph of rainbow flag

Today is the International Day against Homophobia, Biphobia, and Transphobia (IDAHOBiT), a day to reflect on and raise awareness about the discrimination, violence and oppression faced by lesbian, gay, bisexuals, trans and intersex people.

I invite all staff and students to join me at 13:00 at the flagpole between Whiteknights House and the Library for short speeches and flag-raising to mark this important day in the LGBT+ calendar.

Our University celebrates and values the diversity of its staff and students and we all have a responsibility to create a positive, welcoming and inclusive working and learning environment for our community.

As the Diversity Champion in relation to LGBT+ staff and students on the University’s Executive Board, I am proud to be part of an institution that continues to make progress towards a more visibly inclusive environment, though we know that we have much more to do.

Over the past year we have grown our network of LGBT+ Allies through information and training events, the latest event earlier this week. These allies commit to standing up for their LGBT+ colleagues and students, and our LGBT+/LGBT+ Ally rainbow postcards, lanyards and shoelaces are a visible sign of this.

Last night I hosted our third annual Wolfenden Lecture and welcomed Jake and Hannah Graf to speak about their lived experience as a trans couple. Yesterday’s Wolfenden Lecture and Seminar, and other similar events through the year, are opportunities to ensure that the voices and experiences of LGBT+ people are heard and acknowledged.

In June 2018, the University published a new policy on the provision of gender neutral toilets.  This includes guidance for project teams on providing gender neutral toilets, alongside gendered toilets, in existing and new buildings on our campuses. We aim to provide at least one gender neutral toilet in all major buildings alongside gendered facilities, and our progress to date is shown clearly on our campus maps.

In November 2018, we launched a joint #NeverOK campaign with RUSU against harassment and bullying. We are committed to providing a safe environment for all our students and staff, and we do not tolerate any form of bullying, harassment or discrimination. Our recently launched online diversity and inclusion training, that we encourage all staff to take, reinforces this message, and provides many suggestions for getting involved to support all aspects of our work on diversity and inclusion.

We are pleased to have had external recognition of our progress through an increase in our ranking from 138 in 2018 to 80 in the latest Stonewall Workplace Equality Index ranking, achieving recognition as a Stonewall Top 100 Employer for 2019, and making progress towards our challenging target of Top 50 in this ranking by 2020.

However, there is much more we can and will do, to support our LGBT+ staff and students here in the UK and around the world.  Part of our commitment to our international community is our role as a Stonewall Global Diversity Champion, ensuring that we are contributing to and learning from other employers with experience of supporting LGBT+ staff overseas.

I hope that you will join the efforts to make our University a more inclusive community for all.

Parveen Yaqoob

University's Champion for sexual orientation and gender identity

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