LGBT History Month: events, allyship, and trans inclusivity

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By Liberty Strong, LGBT+ Officer, UWE Students Union

This year the LGBT+ Society, UWE Feminist Society and The Students’ Union brought together a cross campus programme of events around the theme of allyship. We invited the UWE community to #ShowYourTrueColours and join us in a month of celebration, education and awareness. This included free films, HIV fast testing, workshops on  gender & intersectionality, discussions about pinkwashing, arts & LGBT+ resistance, Bisexual Visibility, queer history monologues and LGBT+ takeover of Lock In! As well as an incredible reading & resources list produced in collaboration with UWE Library.

Image of Rainbow map of UK on quilt cover thanking MP's who supported same-sex marriage in 2013
Politics and textiles: Oliver Bliss’s quilt project celebrating equal marriage

Our main goal this February was to invite UWE students to #ShowYourTrueColours, encouraging LGBT+ students to be proud of who they are, and to not be afraid to express themselves at university. We achieved this through launching our Ally Campaign. This meant bringing together student representatives and staff members from across the university in a show of solidarity for the LGBT+ community, promoting the idea that you don’t have to be a member of the community to support it.

None of these events could have been possible without the incredible work of the LGBTPlus Society Committee and members. They managed to come up with a broad range of activities to ensure that there was something for everyone this month. Together, with Marianna the SU’s National, Faith & Identity Societies Coordinator, we have had a more diverse and well organised LGBT+ History Month than ever. It’s important that we appreciate the work put into this month, as it is important that the students here raise awareness of the issues faced and milestones achieved by the LGBT+ community from UWE and beyond.

Trans Awareness and gender neutral toilets on campus

As LGBT+ Officer, I have become very involved in the conversation on trans student rights. After the SU wellbeing survey revealed 98% of trans students have suffered from mental health issues, I felt it important to facilitate trans students needs and make their university experience easier.

Poster promoting UWE bathroom as a safe space for Trans and Gender Questioning Students
Trans awareness posters to be put in toilets

Therefore during February, I have also started liaising with the UWE facilities team through the SU to establish more gender neutral toilets in the university. At present, the only gender neutral toilets exist in the SU building and the new X Block. The university has agreed to change any single cubicle gendered toilets around the university into gender neutral toilets. They have also committed to building gender neutral toilets into all new buildings.

As part of the LGBT+ Month campaign and the theme of allyship – working with the university we have developed Trans Awareness posters to be put in toilets across all three campuses. We are encouraging students to respect others’ privacy, identity and continue as normal if they are questioning someone’s right to use a specific bathroom.

This is important because transitioning students may find it hard to adjust to using their preferred gender toilets. This may be due to fear of judgement. Having a bathroom accessible to either gender is a safer option. We are doing everything we can to make the environment for students transitions as comfortable as possible.




Rt Hon David Lammy MP launches 2018 Equity Speaker Series at UWE Bristol

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Rt Hon David Lammy MP, author of the Lammy Review launched the 2018 Equity Speaker Series on Wednesday 24 January at the UWE Bristol Exhibition and Conference Centre. Lammy, who is an popular campaigner and outspoken social and political commentator, spoke on the topic of  ‘The Confidence to Be: What next for the BAME graduate?’ Following the talk, 200 delegates enjoyed networking and a Caribbean inspired canape reception courtesy of Calypso Kitchen restaurant , the brain child of UWE Bristol Alumnus Will Clarke.  A number of pro-diversity organisations were also in attendance as exhibitors to promote opportunities to BAME students.

About UWE Bristol’s Equity Programme

Equity is an innovative positive-action talent and professional development programme for home-BAME students at UWE Bristol.  It was launched in FBL at the University’s annual Link event in October 2017 which attracted approximately 300 students and professionals.  Its principal objectives are the improvement of graduate outcomes specifically in terms of increasing professional employment and self-employment rates as well as supporting them to aim for careers which offer promising earning potential.  Equity days take place once a month and include race and identity coaching and workshops entirely facilitated by external BAME professionals and entrepreneurs. Each Equity day concludes with a keynote speaker that reflects the best of British BAME talent.  (Equity Curator Dr Zainab Khan and Race Equality Programmes Officer Alex Mormoris are both based within FBL, any queries should be addressed to you can also follow the programme on Twitter @Bristol_Equity )