Hate crime against LGBTI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex) students is prevalent on many UK campuses, especially against trans students. At the same time there is a reluctance in higher education to talk about bullying and intimidation of LGBTI students and sometimes even to acknowledge their presence and contribution to university life. It is important to understand the ways in which discrimination and prejudice manifest themselves on campus and how these in turn have a significant impact on the wellbeing, progression rate and academic achievement of LGBTI students. Evidence from the NUS and other sources has consistently shown that LGBT students are more likely to interrupt their courses than heterosexual students as a result of issues related to their sexual orientation. LGBTI students experience correspondingly higher levels of prejudice, social stress and mental health issues, and are more likely to be in debt. Levels of stress affecting international LGBTI students may be even higher. These are some of the undisputed facts. Yet why do we consistently fail to act on them in ways that make a real difference?
Paradoxically, at the very time when LGBTI people are winning many equal rights in society at large, at least in the West, many higher education institutions are becoming places of silence and exclusion in which LGBT students must hide their identity or live double lives for fear of the consequences.
A recent survey (2014) of LGBTI students at Westminster, carried out by the USWU LGBTI Student Society, found that more than 1 in 3 students had experience of or have seen homophobia or transphobia on campus. Some students also felt that teaching staff, regardless of their sexual orientation, could do more to provide positive role models for championing LGBTI equality in the classroom.
This workshop, co-facilitated by members of the USWU LGBTI Student Society and the LGBT Staff Network, will provide opportunities to learn more about how staff and students can work cooperatively to engage LGBT students more successfully, to improve academic outcomes, and to advance the goal of equality. The session will also discuss strategies for engagement through the curriculum, in the classroom and more widely in the University’s social spaces.
|Keywords||equality, diversity, students, higher education, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, inclusivity, teaching|