Celebrating Equality & Diversity
IDAHOT Day was created in 2004 to commemorate the World Health Organization's decision, on 17 May 1990, to declassify homosexuality as a mental disorder and to draw the attention of policymakers, opinion leaders, social movements, the public and the media to the violence and discrimination experienced by LGBTI people internationally. In under a decade, the day has established itself the single most important date for LGBTI communities to mobilise on a worldwide scale.
Our University is committed to a consistent and co-ordinated approach to fairness and opportunity. We are currently ranked 168th in the Stonewall definitive list of Britain's most gay-friendly workplaces leaping 61 places since 2013. The rankings showcase the achievements of employers submitting to the Workplace Equality Index with Leeds Metropolitan University's plan to rank in the top 100 UK employers by 2015.
Our LGBT Equality Group is just one of our networks open to all staff or students to provide a safe and supportive environment in which to discuss issues relating to protected characteristics under the Equality Act. As the group puts its full support behind IDAHOT Day we reflect on some of its recent and current activities.
Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender History Month
As part of Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender History Month (LGBTHM) in February, our University played host to and organised activities to reflect the diversity of our staff and students.
A big cheer to all areas, buildings, help desks, around the University that displayed the Rainbow flags - they were seen by people and noted too via our Twitter accounts in particular.
Professor Ruth Robbins' evening seminar, 'The Queering of Dorian Gray', discussed whether the character and book have become part of gay culture, and whether they shouldn't be seen as such.
Kate Karban, Senior Lecturer at Bradford University, held an evening seminar highlighting her project on health inequalities for LGBT people in society. Kate highlighted how insufficient research is being carried out, but clear discrimination is taking place towards LGBT people seeking medical help and advice. She also commented on how the LGBT and asylum seeking communities are being badly treated when entering the country, with limited support from social workers.
Senior Role Model, Andrew Disbury, Director of our International Office, offered a warm welcome to staff and students at a Tea & Cake event in his office. Andrew's inclusive approach prompted some interesting conversations among a good mixture of staff, managers, straight and LGBT. Discussions included:
- The Stonewall Index;
- Data collection, self-declaration rates;
- Problems gathering sensitive information;
- Staff survey;
- How to reach out to staff who don't engage due to their jobs/role at the University, how do we to get them involved?
Asking the right questions - what do the staff fora do?
- Future events such as Leeds Pride;
- Continuous support, not just for LGBTHM, but throughout the year; and
- 'Intersectionality' - the interactivity of social identity such as race, class, and gender.
In April, we hosted a football match between our Leeds Met Carnegie FC and Yorkshire Terriers FC. Yorkshire Terriers were one of the first gay-friendly teams to be founded in the UK in 1997 and play in the national Gay Football Supporters' Network (GFSN) league, the only one of its kind in the world. The club also works with West Riding FA and a number of professional teams to help battle homophobia.
Professor of Health Promotion, Rachael Dixey, continues to enlist academic colleagues to engage with our staff and students, academically and socially too!
Student Liaison Officer, Jennifer Bowes- Graham, has created a LGBTblog to engage with staff and students.
The Library runs regular displays, not only to highlight University books and resources but to engage with our people. During LGBTHM staff at both libraries helped create posters, select books and maintain displays; 71 copies of the Gay Leeds Map & Guide were given out via a display at City Campus Library alone.
Leeds Pride, 3 August 2014
Our University will be represented in the Leeds Pride March in Leeds city centre and we will also have a stall on Lower Briggate where you can come and chat to our ambassadors and staff.