Out in Education

Thursday 23-11-2017 - 10:51
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We spoke with Andy Harmon, fourth year Computer Science and Chair of the LGBT+ Society to find out more about the new campaign they are running with The Union, aiming to start important conversations about the experiences of LGBT+ students on campus.

 

What have the LGBT+ Society have been up to this year?

“So we had Pride in August and that was really fun — it was good to have that big event in Manchester. Then we had our Freshers stuff that we always do, introducing new students to the city and making sure it’s done in a very safe way as well, as I think a lot of those students are very vulnerable. Over Halloween we showed Rocky Horror with the Horror Society, so we’ve been up to quite a lot. It’s all about having a mixture of different things that students can get involved with, but being very safe and inclusive.”

 

Tell us a little bit about your ‘Out in Eduction’ campaign that you are running with The Union.

“So the name came about from a campaign we’ve wanted to do for ages. It’s kind of a general campaign about the experiences of LGBT+ students at university. I think it’s easy to say that we go to a very liberal university and it’s very safe and welcoming, but for some students it really isn’t. Some students come to university to come out as LGBT+, so it’s really important that there is support there. We want to look and see if there are any spots or gaps in services where the University can improve or where The Union can step in and do something.

What we are looking at primarily is documenting and understanding homophobic, transphobic and biphobic incidents at university and making sure those incidents are recorded, and then finding out what students do in those instances. If there wasn’t homophobia, transphobia or biphobia, students wouldn’t have this big problem, but when that does happen we want to know what students are doing, where are they going and what services they are accessing, because this is vital information for the University. What we are concerned about is that there is no visible guidance for those students. We want to take what has worked before for students and say “this has worked, this is the way you can do this”. The only thing we see that would be relevant is making a formal complaint – but that’s very academically based and it’s a rigorous process that has quite a big impact. For most students, that’s just not something they want to do. So we’re looking at what services they can access not just at the University but also in Greater Manchester, and what is proven to work and hopefully making some guidance for LGBT+ students so they know what to do.”

 

What events relating to the campaign can students look out for?

“So we have a survey coming out soon, so look out for that, where students can talk about what they have done in the past when they have been victims of homophobia, transphobia or biphobia. We will probably be doing a couple of outreach events in The Union too. Another thing, not part of the campaign but worth looking out for, is HIV testing this week. I think a lot of LGBT+ students don’t have a consistent sexual health education that is tailored to them, so it’s important that we have people like the LGBT+ Foundation who have that knowledge coming in and talking to students. There will be a stall in Reception for people to come and have a chat. We’re also doing a collection at Fight Night for World Aids Day. I think talking about sexual health and then advocating ending that stigma around HIV go hand in hand. We are raising money for, I think, the Terrence Higgins Trust, but keep an eye out at the event for us – we’ll be there selling red ribbons. We’ve also got the Tied Together campaign in February next year and other LGBT+ History Month events. Tied Together is about sport and how LGBT+ students aren’t necessarily as involved in sport as non LGBT+ students, so we want to look at that and see what the problems are and build something where we can practice inclusivity.”

 

Find out more about the LGBT+ Society and get involved.

If you want to run a campaign with The Union to raise awareness or create positive change check out our Campaigns page for more information.

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lgbt+, campaign, homphobia, transphobia, biphobia, education,

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