Stonewall has named the University of Glasgow, along with five other UK universities (Essex, Cardiff, Liverpool John Moores, Sheffield Hallam and York St John), gay-friendly universities in the country. While this truly is fantastic news, it strikes qmunicate that only six of the 158 universities reviewed have met the criteria for the title of a Gay-friendly University- what aren’t the other ones doing right?
For those of you unfamiliar with Stonewall’s Gay by Degree university guide, its aims include ‘looking at what universities are doing to support lesbian, gay and bisexual students from the point of application to graduation – from implementing policies and staff training to consulting with LGB students and working with the wider community on LGBT initiatives.’ (Ruth Hunt, Chief Executive at Stonewall.)
The 10-point checklist used to assess how gay-friendly a University is offers reachable aims. These reasonable demands illustrate why it’s so shocking that so few of the UK’s Universities managed to meet all of them. To ensure success, Universities must:
- Have policies that protect lesbian, gay and bisexual students from bullying and mandatory training for staff to enforce this
- Conduct monitoring that specifically asks students about sexual orientation
- Provide welfare support, information and resources for lesbian, gay and bisexual students
- Have a student society for lesbian, gay and bisexual students, which must be active and publicised on the university or students’ union website
- Run events for lesbian, gay and bisexual students, which must be publicised on the university or students’ union website
- Consult with lesbian, gay and bisexual students – they must be included in decision-making processes within the university
- Provide specific career advice for lesbian, gay and bisexual students
- Have a lesbian, gay and bisexual staff network – if staff feel they can be open about their sexuality, students will too
- Be a member of Stonewall’s Diversity Champions programme, a network of organisations sharing good practice on sexual orientation
- Engage with the wider community – schools, colleges and youth groups or other universities – on LGB issues, and encourage prospective LGB applicants to apply.
Glasgow University is a Stonewall Scotland Diversity Champion; this alone shows the commitment for equality of LGBT students. This acts as a channel where issues can be addressed and appropriate ‘bodies for action’ can be notified. The University’s GULGBTQ society encompasses lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer students, providing a ‘social space so that people can get to know each other’. As well as this, is the university’s LGBT Staff Network, primarily for PhD students. Impressively this was one of the first of its kind in Higher Education in Scotland.
International students are also represented during their time here as the ILGA (International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association) produces maps on Gay and Lesbian rights in the world as well as its State Sponsored Homophobia report.
Throughout fresher’s week, GULGBTQ society helpers were available and events for LGBT students were organised to ensure it wasn’t just events concerning straight students.
As you can see, the university has a well established network to ensure it is gay-friendly, for all students; most importantly it does not segregate; but integrates and holds mixed events and societies, there are many on offer to get involved with.
Achieving full marks from Stonewall has shown that though our university is ancient in build, it is becoming more modern and diverse in every social area all the time and this is something that should be celebrated.
The University constantly strives to improve, despite the awarded high marks. The best way to achieve this is through engaging with students. Any feedback on how facilities can be improved, or to introduce new ideas concerning GULGBTQ are always welcome and the various societies and organisations across campus mentioned previously encourage student feedback and suggestions.
Please get in contact, particularly with the SRC (Student Representative Council), if you have any ideas on how the university can become even more gay-friendly.
Hopefully Stonewell’s findings will initiate action from the other Universities to ensure they also meet the standards required to ensure a safe, comfortable environment for every single student on their campuses.