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What LGBT+ History Month means to me: Allan Laville

colour photograph of rainbow flag

As February is LGBT+ History Month, it is timely to reflect on the importance of this. To do so, I will reflect on my recent experience from November 2019 when I attended the Stonewall Leadership Programme. This programme supports delegates to explicitly consider how their LGBT+ identity is part of their approach to leadership.

As part of this, I reflected on my early experiences of facing discrimination from those around me. This really made me think about the microaggressions that many LGBT+ people face. For example, “you do not look gay” is a common microaggression and is symptomatic of some individuals’ need to categorise people into discrete boxes. 

These personal experiences, although negative in nature, have certainly shaped how I interact with others – both on a personal and professional level. It might sound simple but being compassionate and actively listening to other people can make such a big difference – particularly, when prejudice and discrimination can lead to feeling as though you do not belong within society.

At the University of Reading, I am delighted with the visibility of LGBT+ Allies across campus. Many conversations that I have had with LGBT+ staff and students focus on how ally ship supports a real sense of belonging and togetherness within our academic community. This has also been commented on by Stonewall in the feedback for our 2020 Workplace Equality Index (WEI) submission and contributed to us achieving Top 100 Employer status for the second year running.

I am particularly pleased with the result of our staff feedback questionnaire, which was scored at 85% – significantly above the sector average of 42.5%.

We are delighted with the outcome of our 2020 Stonewall WEI submission however; we must not be complacent and further work will be taking place over the coming year. We will continue our best practice in policies and benefits, employee lifecycle, allies and role models, visible support from senior leadership, procurement, community engagement, and supporting students. We also have clear actions to further develop our LGBT+ Staff Network, our monitoring processes of protected characteristic data, as well as how each student-facing service can be more visible in regard to LGBT+ support.

LGBT+ History Month events

In the more immediate future, RUSU and the University are hosting a series of events to acknowledge LGBT+ History Month. These include:

  • 5 February (17:00-18:30) – Jessica Lynn’s Transgender Journey. Venue: Room G10, Henley Business School, Whiteknights campus.
  • 11February (18:00 onwards) - Acclaimed playwright and performer Travis Alabanza 'In Conversation', Bulmershe Theatre, Minghella Studios, Whiteknights campus.
  • 18 February (12:00-14:00) – Become an LGBT+ Ally training, Palmer building, G10.

I look forward to seeing you at our upcoming events!  

Allán Laville,

Dean for Diversity and Inclusion

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