Trans Day of Remembrance 2021

 

Trans Day of Remembrance 2021 
 

Trans Day of Remembrance is on Saturday 20 November every year. Each year this day is a solemn reminder to honour those who have lost their lives in acts of anti-trans violence.  

Data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) shows that trans people are significantly more likely to be a victim of crime (one in four trans people (28%) experienced crime in the year ending March 2020) compared with 14% of people whose gender identity is the same as the sex they were registered at birth.
 

This year, we marked Trans Day of Remembrance with a flag raising event and speeches from staff and students on Whiteknights Campus.   

This year we had speeches from the Dean for Diversity and Inclusion, Dr Allán Laville; RUSU President, Ben Knowles; RUSU Trans Officer, Charlie Dennis; LGBT+ Staff Network, Representative, Quincy Bastow; Guest speaker, Rose Taylor and closing remarks from Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Pro-Vice-Chancellor UEB LGBT+ Champion, Professor Parveen Yaqoob.   

 

 

Dean for Diversity and Inclusion, Dr Allán Laville 

Hello everyone, I’m Al Laville, the Dean for Diversity and Inclusion. 

Trans Day of Remembrance is held every year on 20th November to honour the memory of those who have died as a direct result of transphobic hatred or prejudice. 

Trans Day of Remembrance was founded in 1999 to honour Rita Hester, an African American trans woman, whose murder sparked the “Remembering Our Dead” web project and a San Francisco candlelight vigil. Rita Hester’s murder — like most transphobic murder cases — has yet to be solved. 

Over the past 12 months, for trans and gender-diverse people, there has been 375 registered murders between October 2020 and September 2021. This represents a 7% increase from the 2020 update. 

Remembering those who’ve been killed or driven to suicide cannot bring them back. However, by remembering those who had their lives cut short this year, we are reminded that it starts with hate.  

I would like to read out a Nelson Mandela quote, which encapsulates my main thoughts today: 

 People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite. 

So, what can we do? We can be allies for each other. We can listen to and uplift trans people’s voices. We can allow no space for bigotry and hatred. We can create a society in which every person can live a dignified life.  

 Thank you for listening, I will now handover to Ben Knowles, RUSU President. 

 

RUSU President, Ben Knowles 

On behalf of everyone at Reading University Students’ Union, I am proud to join friends and colleagues in commemorating this incredibly poignant and important date in our calendars. Transgender Day of Remembrance is a time for us to come together in recognition of the challenges still faced by the transgender community, whilst remembering the individuals who have lost their lives throughout the last year as a result of their gender identity. 

At RUSU, we are committed to continuing our stance as a passionate ally of the transgender community, both in our work on campus and beyond. We will always strive to ensure the voice of all transgender students is represented at Reading, whether that’s through our Trans Part-time Officer, through myself and my Full-time Officer colleagues, or through our fantastically supportive LGBT+ student society. As a full member of the National Union of Students, we will continue to support nation-wide campaigns that work towards a more gender-inclusive society, by providing a dedicated platform for transgender students to participate in NUS’ democratic processes at their annual Liberation Conference. 

As an ally myself, I understand the importance in recognising my own privilege, and taking the time to educate myself on the everyday challenges that the transgender community faces. We all have a role to play in eradicating transphobia and making our society a more inclusive place – whether that’s by challenging anti-transgender behaviour, or by setting a tone of inclusivity through the language we use in our daily lives.  

I’d just like to finish by thanking everyone who has joined us today to honour Transgender Day of Remembrance. Together with my colleagues at RUSU, we want to make sure everyone feels supported by their students’ union – regardless of their gender identity. Thank you. 

 

RUSU Trans Officer, Charlie Dennis 

I was around 16 when I first went to an event for Trans Day of Remembrance, and every year since then I have attended one. I am about to turn 22, and yet already I feel as though I have mourned enough for a lifetime. If I must attend a Trans Day of Remembrance event every year for the rest of my life, I will, but I truly hope I do not have to.  

Every year we see these figures, the names, the ages, and it doesn’t really get easier to digest. Sometimes people get caught up in numbers and figures, there’s this percentage of trans people in the world, there’s this many stuck in waitlists, there’s this many of us who died this year- and we forget that all of those one’s are people. Every name on that list was someone. Someone who should still be here. There really is no way to sugarcoat the fact that transphobia kills and will continue to if changes aren’t made. But the thing is, I want trans people to do more than just survive, I want them to be able to flourish, to be happy.  

I know and love a lot of trans people, and they all have dreams- whether that be to own a house with a beautiful garden, or to help others, or to open a club, or to start a family. They all hope for something else as well though, they all want peace. Often people will say that we should feel lucky to be in this country, that it could be worse. And it is true in a way, there are other countries where being trans is much more high risk. It is also important to not ignore that the most vulnerable within the community are black trans women and sex workers, who make up a large proportion of the names read out each year.  

However, it is possible to both recognise these facts and recognise that privilege whilst also being aware that the situation for all trans people in this country is worsening. Transphobia is found within both our main political parties, access to trans healthcare is becoming more difficult, and gender critical ideologies are appearing in almost every field. If there is anything that you take from me today, I would like it to be that if you don’t already, now is the best time for you to commit to standing in solidarity with the trans community.  

Educate yourself on not just the issues we face, but on how diverse and wonderful the community is, and do what you can to show kinship consistently. 

 

LGBT+ Staff Network, Representative, Quincy Bastow 

Hi, my name is Quincy my pronouns are they/them and I am speaking on behalf of the LGBT+ staff network. Tomorrow, 20th November, is Trans Day of Remembrance, a day that honours the memory of the trans people whose lives were lost in acts of anti-trans violence, but also a day in which we remember those who took their own life due to continual abuse and harassment.  

 More than one in 27 percent of young trans people have attempted to take their own life and 89 percent have thought about it. I am one of those many trans people that are a part of that statistic. As trans siblings, we face continual backlash from society on social, continual misgendering, disconcerting looks, inappropriate touching, or physical abuse. Shockingly, half of trans people have hidden their identity at work for fear of discrimination. I have been a victim of many of these phenomena. 

 Such behaviours towards trans people negatively affects their mental health, sometimes leading them to take their own lives due to harassment and abuse. Such instances may not all appear in the statistics, but trans are people aren’t a statistic to be summed to be placed in an equation we are all individuals we are people, and we should all be treated as such. These people are from around the world but also in the UK, which is currently one of the worse places for trans people to live: even though we have an inclusive community here at the University of Reading, many forms of abuse still happen and get unreported.  

 As a staff network, we are here to support you, so look for the rainbow postcards and if you see or are a victim of abuse and harassment report to RUSU or to inclusive staff member hashtag it’s never okay.  

 Trans people are people and trans rights are human rights; today and tomorrow we must remember not just those individuals that have died to violence but those who have died due to abuse and harassment.  

I want to remember those who are forgotten, those who aren’t remembered because they should be and will be remembered 

 

Guest speaker, Rose Taylor 

Transgender Day of Remembrance (TSOR) was started in 1999 by Gwendolyn Ann Smith to honour the memory of Rita Hester – a transgender woman who was killed in 1998. The vigil commemorated all the transgender people lost to violence since Rita Hester’s death, and began an important tradition that has become the annual Transgender Day of Remembrance.  

“Transgender Day of Remembrance seeks to highlight the losses we face due to anti-transgender bigotry and violence. I am no stranger to the need to fight for our rights, and the right to simply exist is first and foremost. With so many seeking to erase transgender people – sometimes in the most brutal ways possible – it is vitally important that those we lose are remembered, and that we continue to fight for justice” – Transgender Day of Remembrance Founder, Gwendolyn Ann Smith 

Today we continue this vigil and remember those who have been lost to violence in that last year. I am struck by the words of Gwendolyn Ann Smith when she talks about the right to simply exist. This fight is still true and with the things we see in the media here we are reminded of it every day. My hope is that we will one day not need to read these lists of names. 

 

In her closing remarks, Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Pro-Vice-Chancellor UEB LGBT+ Champion Parveen Yaqoob thanked those who spoke and those who took time out of their day to share a few moments of reflection and reminding colleagues that we all have a part to play in standing up against bigotry and hatred. 

 

 

 

List Of Names Of Those Who Have Died In The Last Year 

Kiér Laprí Kartier, USA 

Nuray Nuriyev, Azerbaijan 

Bryan Gallan, Philippines 

Ivanna Angeline Macedo, France 

Iratxe Otero, Spain 

Vika Basakovskaya, Russia 

Dimitra Kalogiannis, Greece 

Surya, India

J A. da Silva, Brazil

Kadir Murat Sözübir, Turkey 

Jeffrey Bright, USA 

Bubbli, Pakistan 

Tiara Banks, USA 

Jaqueline Saviery Silva, Brazil 

Claudia Madonna Ramírez, Colombia 

Santiago Cancinos, Argentina 

Ambre Audrey Istier, France 

Adrieli, Italy 

Mia Zabala, Honduras 

Soledad Rojas Paúcar, Peru 

Cristina Hernández Castillo, Mexico 

Thaw Thaw, Myanmar 

Lupita da Silva, Brazil 

Angelita Seixas Alves Correia, Brazil 

Vivianne López, Chile 

Alessandra Ferrati, Bolivia 

Diamond Kyree Sanders, USA 

Mumtaz, Pakistan 

Krys Brandon Ruiz, USA 

Paula Migeon, France 

Cecy Caricia Ixpatá, Guatemala 

Elizabeth Rondón, Venezuela 

Oliver Taylor, USA 

Darla, Brazil 

Dakshayani, India 

Dzhakonda, Kazakhstan  

Kelly Alves, Brazil 

Chyna Carrillo, USA 

Pam, Turkey 

Nelly Garcia, Mexico 

Fabiola Pamela Ramírez, Argentina 

Marcinha Vaz, Brazil 

Yeray Hurtado, Colombia 

Lala Contreras, Nicaragua 

Tiffany Thomas, USA 

 

 

Trans Day of Remembrance Staff Portal piece: https://www.reading.ac.uk/internal/staffportal/news/articles/spsn-861476.aspx  

 

 

Celebrating Diwali!

Our staff and students at UoR have shared their Diwali celebrations with us in this blog! 

 

NHSF Reading 

Diwali is a very important festival for me. This allows me and my family to be together and celebrate. Last year, for Diwali we put Diyas around the house and got some sparkles to play with in the garden. Additionally, at university we had a Diwali ball during my first year which made me realise that this festival allows people to unite and have fun. It was full of dancing and taking loads of pictures. 

– Saumya(Co-president) 

 

Diwali is a time where all of my extended family get together. We play games and eats lots of freshly prepared Indian snacks and sweets. 

– Raj(Co-president) 

 

Diwali for me is about spending time with my family eating Indian food, playing games and watching the fireworks.  Growing up in Leicester I was surrounded by the biggest Diwali celebrations outside of India, I am so grateful to have celebrated and still celebrate in such a huge manner. 

– Bhavani(Sewa and Sanskaar) 
 

For me Diwali is about spending time with family and friends. Me and my family celebrate it by lighting Diyas(candles) outside our house and eating plenty of Indian Sweets. During this time, we also do fireworks and make rangoli which is a special type of art using different colours of powders to make beautiful designs. 

– Priyan(secretary and media) 

 

 

This Diwali, light a candle for hope 

Santosh Sinha (Staff Engagement Manager; Co-Chair of BAME Staff Network) 

 

What a difference a year makes! 

Diwali (the Hindu festival of lights) feels much brighter this year. Earlier this week, I was taking my son for his taekwondo class when the sky lit up with colours and sounds of fireworks.  

I am sure that the private school, which put on this display, was either celebrating Guy Fawkes Night a bit early or trying to cheer up its pupils. However, for me – and to some extent, my son – fireworks at this time of the year mean that other are joining in, in the celebration of Diwali (though some Indian friends suspect that this year it might also be English and Pakistani cricket fans celebrating yet another disappointing performance by India at the T20 Cricket World Cup). 

There is something about the fireworks that cheers you up. Over the years, we have toned down our use of fireworks. As parents, a sparkler seems to be the safest device your child can handle and the rest has to be done in moderation to be a good neighbour. 

Unlike last year, when the celebration were non-existent, this year’s celebrations started over the weekend for us. We had invited some families for dinner and Diwali celebrations with us. With COVID19 continuing to cast a shadow, we had to go for a much smaller gathering that we are used to.  

It did feel like Diwali. We had sweets. We had terracotta lamps. We had firecrackers. But most importantly, we had friends to celebrate the day with – friends who understand how important Diwali is and how it brings people together. 

It was nearly two in the morning by the time we wrapped up, but the clocks were changing that night and we were able to gain an extra hour of sleep. Definitely my best Diwali gift ever! 

Tonight we will be setting out to be with our friends, who we have celebrated Diwali with every single year that we have known them. The children look forward to it every year, and we enjoy spending Diwali with friends who are almost family to us. 

My wife and I have been able to see our mothers after almost three years – she had to visit India to see hers and mine is visiting us at the moment.  

As I wrote last year, most of us were hoping to meet up “soon” while being acutely aware that “soon” may be months away. Increased vaccination and the easing travel restrictions mean that the hope is now a reality. 

So let’s light a candle tonight to hope that the next year is an even better year than this one! 

 

Happy Diwali!

Prof Vimal Karani S (Professor of Nutrigenetics & Nutrigenomics) 

http://blogs.reading.ac.uk/diversereading/files/2021/11/Diwali-2_Trim2_1-Prof-Vimal-Karani.mov 

 

 

 

Diwali – Celebrating The Light Within 

Shweta Band (Lecturer and PhD Candidate, School of Law) 

 

The fragrance of sandalwood incense sticks and listening to the song ‘Uthi uthi Gopala’ in the blissful voice of Pandit Kumar Gandharva ji, the doyen of Indian classical vocal music- this is my earliest memory of a Diwali morning growing up in India. It was a decades-old family ritual and something that I miss every year celebrating Diwali away from home. As immigrants from India, I always find myself making eager attempts to relive and recreate all cultural traditions and rituals as an experience-legacy for my children. But there’s something magical in celebrating Diwali back home- surrounded by family and amidst the millions of lights and colours everywhere!  

I’m sure you all know Diwali as portrayed by social media, but if you’ve ever wondered how an actual Diwali day in India looks like- join in this visual journey- from my Diwali trip to India in 2019 (something I had managed after eight long years).  

As we celebrate Diwali away from home every year, we try and live the beautiful spirit of the festival- of the value of celebrating with family and friends, of the joy of gifting, of being thankful to the wealth (in whatever form!) that life has given us and of the eternal hope that good triumphs over evil and light over darkness. Diwali isn’t just about the light from the sparkles of the diya-lamps, or the lanterns or from the firecrackers. On a spiritual level, Diwali is all about being enlightened by the light within! It’s a beautiful reminder that one whose heart is filled with light, will brighten all lives around! This is what I love about my favourite festival.  

So here’s the Diwali wish I leave you with –  

Roshan karo, roshan raho!  

May you spread the light. May you be the light!  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All About Diwali

What is Diwali?  

Diwa, also known as Divali or Deepawali, is a festival celebrated by people of different faiths including Hindus, Jains, Sikhs, Muslims and some Buddhists across the globe. 

Diwali originates from the Sanskrit word ‘deepavali’, which means ‘rows of lights’. 

Diwali is often referred to as the festival of lights. It celebrates the triumph of good over evil, and light over darkness, marking the start of the Hindu New Year. As one of the prominent festivals of India, celebrations take place together with family and friends, whilst new and old relationships are kindled through Indian sweets, delicacies and laughter.

 

When is Diwali?  

Diwali takes place over 5 days. The main festival day falls on a different date in the autumn each year, in line with the Hindu lunar calendar, in the Hindu lunar month Kartika. Usually, Diwali falls in October or November in the Gregorian calendar. This year, Diwali is on Thursday 04 November 2021. 

 

How is Diwali celebrated?  

Diwali is a five-day festival, with the height of the festival being celebrated on the third day, which is Thursday 04 November 2021. 

Preparations for the festival involve people cleaning and decorating their homes in the lead-up to the festival.  

Diwali is celebrated with joy, sweets, and also fireworks, string lights and candles. Many towns celebrate as a community by throwing parties. Traditional celebrations include lighting diyas (oil lamps) in workplaces and homes. Diyas are a guidance for Goddess Lakshmi to find her way home. They also act as a spiritual reminder that inner light can protect homes from spiritual darkness.  

Each day of Diwali has it’s own significance:  

Day 1, Dhanteras – Cleaning homes and shopping  

Day 2, Chhoti Diwali / Naraka Chaturdasi / Kali Chaudas  – Decorating homes with lamps and creating design patterns called rangoli using coloured powders or sand.  

Day 3, Diwali / Deepawali / Lakshmi Puja – The main day of the festival! Families and friends gather for prayers to Goddess Lakshmi, often followed by feasts and festivities – sometimes fireworks!  

Day 4, Govardhan Puja / Padva – The first day of the new year. Friends and families often visit each other with gifts and best wishes for the season.  

Day 5, Bhai Dooj / Yama Dwitiva – A day for brothers and sisters to honour one another. Siblings often pray for one another and participate in a ceremony called tilak. Often also followed by feats and festivities!  

  • Diwali Ball  

Date/Time: 25th November, 7pm-11pm
Location: 3sixty, Reading University Students’ Union 
Find out more by contacting NHSF Reading at nhsfreading@gmail.com  

 

 

Further Resources:  

Diwali.org – https://www.diwalifestival.org/ 

25 Facts About Diwali – https://parade.com/1116817/marynliles/diwali-facts/  

17 Indian Street Food Recipes – https://parade.com/843981/manuzangara/17-indian-street-food-recipes/ 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Proud to be: Celebrating Black History Month

 

October is Black History Month and this year’s theme is Proud To Be. The campaign is aiming to make Black History Month 2021 unique and personal to individuals, families and communities. In addition to this aim, this theme also focuses on the achievements and contributions of Black people throughout history.  

 At the University of Reading, we are proud to be celebrating Black History Month and continuing conversations around race beyond just the month of October. In this blog piece, we’ve compiled a list of resources in various formats that encourage thinking and discussions on race for more than just a month.  

 

 

Books

on Black British History: 

on Anti-Racism: 

  • Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race – Reni Eddo-Lodge  
  • So You Want To Talk About Race – Ijeoma Oluo 
  • The Good Ally – Novara Reid 

On Race:  

  • Afropean: Notes from Black Europe – Johnny Pitts
  • Biracial Britain: A Different Way of Looking at Race – Remi Adekoya
  • Brit(ish): On Race, Identity and Belonging – Afua Hirsh
  • In Black and White: A Young Barrister’s Story of Race and Class in a Broken Justice System – Alexandra Wilson
  • Mixed/Other: Explorations of Multiraciality in Modern Britain – Natalie Morris

 

 

Podcasts 

American Podcasts: 

 

 

Videos about Black British History: 

 

 

Videos about Anti-Racism: 

 

 

Resources & events:


 

Other resources: 

 

 

 

 

 

Bi Visibility Day is 23 Years Old!

Trigger warning: This article contains references to self-harm and domestic violence.  

 

Bi Visibility Day is marking it’s 23rd Year and we are excited to acknowledge and celebrate our Bi colleagues and students and remind our Ally colleagues and students that even after 23 years of marking this day, there are still challenges to overcome for this community within the LGBT+ community.  

As it falls on the 23rd of September, we thought we could go through 23 things to remember this Bi Visibility day:

 

23 Things to Remember on Bi Visibility Day:
 

  • No more erasure! 

Bi Erasure is a pervasive issue where the legitimacy and/or existence of bi identities is denied. Here are some ideas to help your bi friends fight invisibility and erasure. 

 

  • Avoid assumptions 

Avoid making assumptions based on someone’s previous or current partner. Follow their lead on language they use to define their relationship or identity and be aware that this could be fluid and subject to change.  

 

  • ‘Bi’ is an umbrella term   

Bi is a word we can use to describe several identities, attractions, and orientations.  According to bi.org: 

“Terms that fall under the bi umbrella include pansexual (attraction to all genders, with a political emphasis on nonbinary gender identities), polysexual (attraction to multiple sexes), omnisexual (attraction to all sexes), and multisexual (attraction to multiple sexes). Some people prefer the term fluid meaning that their attractions are not fixed and include people of more than one sex over time. “  

 

  • Be an Ally! 

You can join the LGBT+ Staff Network as an Ally, as well as signing up to our Bi inclusion training and learn about ways to support your bi colleagues. You can also pick up an UoR LGBT+/LGBT+ Ally lanyard and pronoun badge when you’re on campus to be a visible Ally! These are free to pick up at various places across campus including Whiteknights House reception and the Students’ Union reception. 

You can also check out this ‘10 Ways You Can Step Up as an Ally to Bi People‘ article over on the Stonewall website.

 

  • One in two 18-24 year olds in the UK do not identify as 100% straight 

study by YouGov, using the Kinsey scale, allows people to place themselves along a sexuality scale. Taken as a whole, 23% of the British public do not identify as straight.   

 

  • Bi people make up nearly half of the LGBT+ community 

According to a 2013 Pew research centre survey, bi people make up 44% of the LGBT+ community. MyUmbrella, who champion inclusion within the LGBT+ community in Reading, made this podcast last year talking about why we still need Bi Visibility day. 

 

  • Recognise and challenge biphobia 

If you witness biphobia or bi erasure, and you feel safe to do so, challenge this behaviour. You can use the University’s method for calling out (or calling in) detrimental behaviour, the UHT method – Getting involved – call out bad behaviour. 

You can also report this behaviour using the University’s reporting procedures – Harassment reporting and support.  

 

  • Uplift and support marginalised bi people 

This can be done by everyone within the bi community, as well as all allies.  

BAME bi people are further marginalised and discriminated against within the bi community,  Ace bi people are erased and excluded, bi men face stigma from the LGBT+ community and  so on. Intersectionality within the bi community often leads to further inequality. You can  help fight this by seeking out and supporting bi groups who explicitly support those people  who identify as having multiple, or intersecting, protected characteristics.  

Bi’s of colour, an organisation created “cos bisexuality isn’t just for white folks” sadly shut down operations this year, but you can read Bi’s of Colour History report in 2015.   

 

  • Bi people have always been here 

Being bi isn’t a new way to identify, nor is it a phase or a trend. Take a look through some of the iconic bi people throughout history – Historical figures who are bi icons  

 

  • Use inclusive language 

Be aware of, and curious about, the language you use. Do you use the word ‘gay’ as a catch-all term? Could this be inadvertently erasing someone’s bi identify? Remember that asking lots of questions so that you are clear on someone’s identity can be harmful, so keep an open, empathic mind. The Stonewall Glossary of terms is a useful resource.   

 

  • Bi people face unique mental health challenges 

In a review of depression and anxiety among bi people, meta-analysis of approximately 52 eligible studies, found that: 

“consistent pattern of lowest rates of depression/anxiety among heterosexual people, while bisexual people exhibit higher or equivalent rates in comparison to lesbian/gay people.” 

 

  • Bi people face unique parenting challenges  

Bi people are almost twice as likely to be parents than gay or lesbian people, and some may find it tricky to know how or when to ‘come out’ to their children. You can read about some of the lived experiences of bi parents in this article How Do Bi Parents Come Out to Their Kids?   

The parent and family network recently held an event in conjunction with the LGBT+ staff network, focused on LGBT+ parenting.   

 

  • The majority of people of all generations in the UK now accept the idea that sexual orientation exists along a continuum rather than a binary choice  

YouGov states that overall 60% of straight people support this idea, and 73% of those who identify as LGBT+. 

 

  • Young bi people and self-injury

According to University of Manchester researchers, young bi people are up to six times more likely to engage in non-suicidal self-injury. Further research is being done into this issue, you can find out about the study here Self-Injury in young Bisexual people: A Longitudinal investigation (SIBL)  

 

  • Bi people face high levels of discrimination at work  

Stonewall report on bi people in the workplace, found: 

“Bisexual staff are, they felt, subjected to assumptions that they may find demeaning or inappropriate.” 

 

  • Make LGBT+ spaces inclusive 

It is important that LGBT+ spaces review their inclusivity and recognise any challenges. We introduced a position of ‘Bi role model’ into our LGBT+ staff Network  

 

  • 61% of bi women and 37% of bi men experience intimate partner violence.  

According to a study, bi people experienced the highest rates of violence by an 

intimate partner. In Reading there are several organisations you can reach out to including Trust HouseAlana House, and Berkshire Women’s Aid 

 

  • Support bi organisations and campaigns 

Find national and local organisations that you can support, such as:

Bi Pride UK  

The Unicorn project  

BiCon 

 

  • Make sure your workplace, university or school is inclusive 

At the University of Reading, some of the ways you can support bi people are joining the LGBT+ Staff Network, taking Bi inclusion training, joining RUSU LGBT+ society. 

In Reading town, SupportU are and LGBT+ organisation who can offer a professional consultancy and tailor training for local businesses and organisations. 

Stonewall are a larger organisation who share best practice and toolkits, provide training and a benchmarking tool. The University of Reading continues to be among Stonewall’s Top 100 Employers, according to the 2020 Stonewall Workplace Equality Index. 

 

  • The Bi Pay Gap  

‘INVISIBLE MAJORITY’ a US report on the disparities facing bi people, shows that 48% percent of bi respondents report a lower annual family income compared to 28% of all adults in the United States.  

 

  • Support bi people to live full and complex lives, like everyone else! 

Bi people can be further stigmatised if they are seen to ‘fit’ into stereotypes. Bi people can live every bit as complex and nuanced lives as those who do not identify as bi. Affirm your friends, colleagues and family members identities and relationships and remember the harm that can be caused by stereotyping.  

 

  • Positive Bi representation in the media  

Representation is so important because of the link between societal attitudes towards bi  people, and their portrayal in mainstream media.  GLAAD’s ‘Where we are on TV’ report.  

 

  • Celebrate bi people! 

Amplify the voices and experiences of bi people. Celebrate days like Bi Visibility Day. Search social media for bi content creators, learn and share their content.  

 

 

 

 

Further Resources:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

‘One Refugee Without Hope is Too Many’

with contributions from, and special thanks to Alice Mpofu-Coles Honorary MUniv (OU), PhD candidate Human Geography/Refugee Champion

 

The recent instability in Afghanistan means that over 18 million more people are at urgent risk and in need of humanitarian assistance right now. 

There are many initiatives and projects in the UK and in the local community where you can join in and help this situation.  

 

What you can do to support refugees:

 Details of local events and donation points are below, including those of Reading Refugee Support Group. Some suggestions of ways you can support are: 

 

  • Supporting Sanctuary – football, libraries, gardens, colleges, theatres, schools, councils, maternity, universities,  become part of STAR (STUDENT ACTION FOR REFUGEES). 

Make your voice heard at this City of Sanctuary online eventForum – the Afghan crisis in the context of a broken system  

The session will be interactive, informal and centred around emerging challenges and good practice examples. Please send us in any topics you wish to raise. Whether it is approaches to housing, working with local communities, holding/bridging hotels, development of plans for welcome/integration or relationship with national bodies…we want to hear about your experiences and what has worked well so far to respond to ongoing pressures in a rapidly changing environment. 

 

 

 

 

If you are on Twitter, use the hashtags #AntiRefugeeBill and #TogetherWith Refugees   

 

Join the TOGETHER WITH REFUGEES project for a kinder and fairer society: https://togetherwithrefugees.org.uk/.   

 

 

 

 

 

 

University of Reading at Reading Pride Love Unites Festival 2021

Saturday 4th September 2021, King’s Meadow, Reading 

 

An article written with collaborative input from, and with special thanks to: 

Abi Flach, Al Laville, Aleiah Potter, Alice Mpofu Coles, Amrit Saggu, Amy Sheffield, Becky Kite, Carol Fuller, Clare Hallcup, Eva van Herel, Florian Roithmayr, Gordon Short, Hatty Taylor, Javier Amezcua, Jessica Tyers, Jude Brindley, Kat Bicknell, Lucy Guest, Mark McClemont, Martina Mabale De Burgos, Mathew Haine, Susan Thornton, Nozomi Tolworthy, Parveen Yaqoob, Peter Scarfe, Rachel Helsby, Ruvi Ziegler, Sadie Bartholomew, Saif Maher, Sinead O Flynn and Sheldon Allen. 

 

Love Unites!

We were so excited to hear that Reading Pride – Love Unites Festival was back on in person this year and it did not disappoint! We had our usual stand in the festival’s marketplace where we could engage with the community.  

We talked about life on campus, working at the University, the student experience at the University. We also talked about inclusive recruitment, and ways one could join the University, as staff or prospective students. We celebrated the current and ever-expanding support for LGBT+ students and staff at the University, including RUSU’s LGBT+ student society, the LGBT+ Staff Network and much more!  

The University's Stand at the Love Unites festival set up, waiting for guests to arrive; A 6 metre by 3 metre Gazebo with a hot pink covering. Two large tables are under the gazebo, covered by the University of Reading tablecloths, in our signature red colour. A large rainbow flag hangs from the back of the Gazebo Three large signs are standing on easels in front of the stand, showing the Lord Wolfenden and the cover of his report. There is text explaining the Wolfenden legacy, and another image in modern day, showing University of Reading. The text describes the modern-day impact of the Wolfenden report on staff, students, and the wider community.

 Professor Kat Bicknell, Head of the Department of Pharmacy, Nozomi Tolworthy, Diversity and Inclusion Advisor and Professor Carol Fuller stand under the gazebo at the University of Reading stall. They are standing in front of a table which has a red University of Reading table cloth and is covered with rainbow lanyards, postcards and pronoun badges.

 

Free Handouts for All!

We engaged the crowds with our handouts; rainbow lanyards, progress flag/UoR stickers. A particular favourite was the pronoun badges we were giving out. In 2019 we launched four styles of pronoun badges: He/Him, She/Her, They/Them, and a badge with a blank box for custom pronouns. These were a huge, and unique hit at the festival and were very welcome amongst the attendees.  

We initially wrote about the importance of pronouns in our blog piece back in February 2019 – Pronoun Badges at the University of Reading. We want our trans and non-binary colleagues, students and members of the wider community to know, as well as our cisgender colleagues, students, and members of the wider community that we not only support but encourage their expression of their gender identity. We want to recognise and respect the entire spectrum of gender and do all that we can to represent and celebrate the diverse community of identities that we have at Reading. You can read more about the importance of pronouns here 

 

Digital Takeover

Martina Mabale De Burgos, Student Outcomes Coordinator and University of Reading Community Champion and Sheldon Allen, Law Student and UoR Community Champion, did an awesome job of taking over the University of Reading’s social media channelsStarting at the parade, they made their way through the town with the hundreds of others in the Parade. They made sure everyone who couldn’t be there felt included in the day by sharing photographs and posts throughout the day. We used the University’s iconic social media frame, which is being modelled in the image above by Parveen Yaqoob, who is the LGBT+ champion on the University’s Executive Board, and Sheldon.   

 

Celebrating the Wolfenden Legacy

We had placards printed which told the story of Lord Wolfenden. In 1957, John Wolfenden released a report which proposed that ‘homosexual intercourse between consenting adults should be decriminalized’. The uproar it produced in politics, the press and public discourse eventually helped pave the way for LGBT+ rights in the UK.  

Lord Wolfenden was Vice Chancellor of the University of Reading between 1950–1964 and future Director of the British Museum, was chosen to head the Departmental Committee on Homosexual Offences and Prostitution in 1954.

We mark this important moment in history annually with the Wolfenden Lecture.  

This year the Wolfenden Lecture was presented by special guest, Hafsa Qureshi, Stonewall Bi Role Model of the Year 2019. 

The event this year was named ‘Why We Are Not All Equal’; 

As a modern society, we treat the problem of inequality as a thing of the past. This lecture aimed to dispel the notion that equality has been achieved. We looked at the ways society has adapted the way we discriminate against one another, and what we can do to oppose this. 

 

 

Pride as a Protest

We were very happy this year to see the traditional roots of LGBT+ Pride were given consideration, with a ‘grassroots protest’ art instillation at the Main entrance to the festival. LGBT+ Pride is well known as a celebration of the diverse identities and people within the LGBT+ community, but it is also a protest.

The Pride celebrations that we know and love all over the world today were born in New York City. Following the Stonewall riots, (also known as the Stonewall uprising or the Stonewall rebellion) which were a series of spontaneous demonstrations by members of the LGBT+ community in response to a police raid that began in the early morning hours of June 28, 1969 at the Stonewall Inn.  

The first Pride March, on 28th June 1970 was called the Christopher Street Liberation Day March (which is the name of the road the Stonewall Inn is on) and the event had both an element of celebration and protest. 

 

We had a truly brilliant time at the Love Unites festival. We are also aware we can always improve. Some of the ideas we have had for next year already include things such as: 

  • A UoR flag flying high from the stall, so people can find us easily from a distance,  
  • Changing or adapting our hand-outs so that they are environmentally friendly,  
  • A ‘photo booth’ with our amazing frame (as modelled by Ruvi in the image above) including the famous disco ball from the Art Department.  

 

 

If you have any comments, feedback or any exciting ideas for next year, we would love to hear from you. Please send us an email at diversity@reading.ac.uk with your comments.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Is STEM Racist and Sexist? Investigating why BAME Women get the Shortest End of the Stick

by
Reham ElMorally, PhD Candidate in International Development, SAPD
Billy Wong, Associate Professor, Institute of Education
Meggie Copsey-Blake, MA Education Graduate, Institute of Education

 

Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) degrees and work environments were traditionally male dominated, as the belief that males have a higher capacity to rationalize and problem solve. Females, on the other hand, are perceived to have higher cognitive verbal abilities, stereotyping them as unsuitable to engage in public deliberation and better, thus supposedly they are better suited to dominate the private sphere. Throughout the past decades, not only was this hypothesis debunked by numerous scholars, particularly psychologists, but it was also rescinded as it was proven that females can have just as high, if not higher, cognitive functionality than males(Steward-Williams & Halsey, 2021). While the prejudicial and biased accounts of cognitive aptitudes have been challenged by the academics and scholars, the social cycle of female inferiority is still prevalent.  Furthermore, an archaic but dominant belief that people from minority ethnic backgrounds do not have an aptitude for STEM (MacDonald, 2014) can still be experienced in the labour market at worrying rates. This notion can be attributed to colonialism and imperialistic cultural exportation, it was perpetuated in the West by the White social hegemonic bloc to maintain White supremacy and protect the seemingly beneficiary status quo.

 

In the SESTEM research project, we analysed 69 interviews (51 minority ethni cand 18 White British students) from undergraduates in STEM degrees asking them to reflect on the racial and gender dynamics with their respective degrees.

 

In our previous publication ((Wong, ElMorally and Copsey-Blake, 2020 and  2021), the data revealed and supported a de facto institutional bias against minority ethnic students. This is manifested in terms of microaggressions, tokenism, and lack of substantive representative diversity in terms of faculty and staff. We examined the intersectionality of race and gender to better understand why minority ethnic students, specifically female students, are less likely to graduate with a 1st or 2:1 as compared to their White male counterparts, and also less likely to apply for STEM-related employment. The premise of our study is that women and ethnic minorities are subjugated to a variety of institutional and social barriers, including gender roles and expectations, and reproduced by the value for labor as commanded by the capitalist system embedded in the UK system.

 

Firstly, we investigated microaggressions students face during their studies. The literature supports that some microaggressions can result from a general disinterest in utilitarianism, which may include a heightened interest in profit. Other examples may include institutional and political agendas with capitalist objectives, where ethical questions such as effects on the environment and the social wealth distribution are simply irrelevant. However, for this research, microaggressions with a racial and gendered undertone are of interest. Microaggression can also manifest itself in terms of gender discrimination. Melony, a White British female, for example, discussed the gender role division in the STEM workplace:

‘I think, obviously you hear comments like sexist comments. When I was at work, one of the managers was saying, we have to go and lift something and they’re always like, we’ll get the boys together, lift it. The girls were always made to waitress, not be seeing out of the front, whereas the boys do the room service and things like that. There’s still like a pay gap and things.’

 

Secondly, we investigated institutional biases and their effects on student performance and predicted attainability of a STEM degree. We particularly examined how the lack of symbolic and substantive representation affects learning. We have found that an internalized sense of superiority and inferiority  exists among the students we interviewed. For example, Chetachi, a Black British male, felt that these negative stereotypes are not susceptible to change due to the lack of existing role models for Black students. Describing his experiences, Chetachi shared:

‘I barely see any black staff. There’s only one in [my department], and sometimes I ask myself, ‘How does he feel being the only black person in the whole building full of maybe Europeans and whites? How would you feel?’

 

He continued to add there is a lack of role models for black students to guide and substantially tip the scales in favour of ethnic minorities. Respectively, Katherine, a Black British female, touched upon the double-burden of being an ethnic minority and a woman, stating:

‘So many BAME students do come from a working-class background, not all of them, but it could be once again that just not relating to someone [other Black women]. Or maybe the institution itself, maybe, cos obviously uni is a middle-class institution, so it may be hard to just kind of reach to that level.’

 

These accounts led us to propose a more intersectional approach to race and gender mainstreaming at the university level to counteract the effects of historic marginalization and break the socialised inferiority-superiority cycle. We stress that a glass ceiling does exist for minority ethnic students which puts a barrier to entry and achievement. This ceiling is comprised of internalised emotions and unconscious biases towards ‘The Other and Otherhood’. The study also revealed how double-burden (Patimo and Pereio, 2017) of the Stereotype Threat (Dunderson and Li, 2020) negatively affect female minority ethnic students the most.

 

Our study negated the supposed biological predisposition of males and females, as well as reviewed the literature negating racial superiority in relation to cognitive aptitude. We exposed the shallow institutional efforts to appear diverse but in fact exploit tokenism to raise the profile of the institution. Sequentially, we recommend that Higher Education institutions must either substantially reform their approach to closing differential degree outcomes on the basis of race, as well as recognise the shortcomings of the institution in terms of its ‘zero-tolerance’ and ‘affirmative action’ efforts to provide minority ethnic students, especially female students, with a comparative advantage to counter historic, social, and institutional marginalisation. Should HE institutions fails to substantively reform their organisation, we propose that ‘Real-life sessions’, such as ‘Racism and Sexism in the work place’, ‘How to be assertive’, and ‘Your rights as an employee under UK law’, be streamlined and offered to all students, but particularly to ethnic minority ones. This is meant to prepare minority ethnic students for the barriers to entry and challenges they will inevitably face in the capitalist-labour market and improve their chances of success.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

References:

AdvanceHE (2020). Students statistical report 2020. Advance-HE, (accessed online):  https://www.advance-he.ac.uk/guidance/equality-diversity-and-inclusion/using-data-and-evidence/statistics-reports

Gunderson, L. & Li, G. (2020). Racist Stereotyping of Asians as Good at Math Masks Inequities and Harms Students. The Conversation, (accessed online): https://theconversation.com/racist-stereotyping-of-asians-as-good-at-math-masks-inequities-and-harms-students-132137

MacDonald, A. (2014). “Not for people like me?” Under-represented groups in science, technology and engineering. A Summary of the evidence: the facts, the fiction and what we should do next. WISE Campaign, (accessed online): https://www.wisecampaign.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/not_for_people_like_me-full-report.pdf

Patimo, R., and Pereiro, T.C. (2017). from the double role to the multiple burden of women: career or carer?. In Fussell, E. (Ed). Research in Progress Population, Environment, Health. (Italy: Cacucci Editore)

Stewart-Williams, S., & Halsey, L. G. (2021). Men, women and STEM: Why the differences and what should be done? European Journal of Personality35(1), 3 39. https://doi.org/10.1177/0890207020962326

Wong, B., ElMorally, R., & Copsey-Blake, M. (2021). ‘Fair and square’: What do students think about the ethnicity degree awarding gap? Journal of Further and Higher Education, https://doi.org/10.1080/0309877X.2021.1932773

Wong, B., R. ElMorally, M. Copsey-Blake, E. Highwood, and J. Singarayer. 2020. “Is Race Still Relevant? Student Perceptions and Experiences of Racism in Higher Education.” Cambridge Journal of Education. doi:10.1080/ 0305764X.2020.1831441.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Refugee Week 2021 (14th – 20th June)

by
Dr Allán Laville, Dean for Diversity and Inclusion & Lecturer in Clinical Psychology
Alice Mpofu-Coles, Honorary MUniv (OU), PhD candidate Human Geography/Refugee Champion, Community Engagement EDI
Dr Charlotte Newey, Lecturer in Philosophy
Hatty Taylor, Diversity and Inclusion Advisor
Nozomi Tolworthy, Diversity and Inclusion Advisor
Dr Ruvi Ziegler, Associate Professor 

 

 

Refugee Week is a UK-wide festival celebrating the contributions, creativity and resilience of refugees and people seeking sanctuary. It was first celebrated in 1998, designed to coincide with UN World Refugee Day which is marked on 20th June.
At the University of Reading, we want to raise awareness and develop understanding of the lived experience of refugees and people seeking sanctuary.  

The theme of this year is We Cannot Walk Alone

Refugee Week’s vision is:

“for refugees and asylum seekers to be able to live safely within inclusive and resilient communities, where they can continue to make a valuable contribution.
Refugee Week is an umbrella festival, and anyone can get involved by holding or joining an event or activity. Refugee Week events happen in all kinds of different spaces and range from arts festivals, exhibitions, film screenings and museum tours to football tournaments, public talks and activities in schools.”

 

 

City of Sanctuary and the University of Reading

City of Sanctuary is a national movement of local people and community groups committed to creating a culture of welcome and safety, especially for refugees seeking sanctuary from war and persecution. The University of Reading first signed the Reading-specific City of Sanctuary pledge in April 2017. The University pledged to support the ‘City of Sanctuary‘ vision that the UK will be a welcoming place of safety for all and proud to offer sanctuary to people fleeing violence and persecution. Reading was awarded City of Sanctuary status in July 2017. 

This year, we have relaunched the Sanctuary Scholarship Scheme, details of which can be found in this article – University shows support to sanctuary seekers

In addition to the scholarship scheme, we have recently launched the Buy a coffee and support a sanctuary seeker, which means that instead of ordering your usual cappuccino, buy two drinks and leave one in the bank to support local sanctuary seekers and Reading City of Sanctuary! , local sanctuary seekers can visit the cafe, receive a hot drink from the bank and participate in the same café culture we can all enjoy and benefit from at the University.

As refugee week coincides with Pride Month, it is high time to reflect on the discrimination, violence, and persecution that LGBT+ persons face in all corners of the world (70 countries still criminalise consensual sexual relations between men!) causing them to flee and seek safety and freedom elsewhere, including in the UK. The University of Reading is committed to helping refugees and asylum seekers of all sexual orientations, gender identities, races, and religions. Tolerance and acceptance are fundamental to our values, and we feel a deep responsibility to protect and welcome those who have historically been discriminated against, including LGBT+ refugees.

 

 

Reading Refugee Support Group (RRSG) 

RRSG are Reading’s local charity dedicated to supporting refugees and asylum seekers. They have been supporting people in the Berkshire area for over 25 years. This year, RRSG are launching a campaign asking individuals and groups to complete seven actions for seven days, which centre around supporting RRSG, joining a national campaign to demand ’Safe routes now’, attending a film screening, making donations, as well as other ways to support the charity, and refugees in the Berkshire area.

They told us: 

“For Refugee Week, we are challenging you to take on  Seven Actions For Seven Days to help refugees living in Berkshire.  We also proudly present a Programme of Special Refugee Week Events celebrating all aspects of refugee strength, culture and creativity. 

Find out more about the challenge and our programme of events here: https://rrsg.org.uk/refugee-week-2021/ 

Please help spread the word and share this far and wide!”

 

 

Activities and Events 

There are also plenty of online events that you can attend to celebrate the contribution of  refugees and people seeking sanctuary, and learn about their journeys:
  • Moving Worlds

Monday 14th June – Sunday 20th June 2021

A programme of films available to watch at home during Refugee Week, produced by Counterpoints Arts, which coordinates Refugee Week nationally.

https://movingworlds.info/ 

 

  • Together Workshops 

Sunday 7th June – Sunday 21st June 2021, 16:30-18:00

Together Workshops from theatre company PSYCHEdelighton the theme of Imagine. 

Refugee Week Drama Workshops 

 

  • Walk with MIRIAM 

Tuesday 1st June – Wednesday 30th June 2021

Join the Walk with MIRIAM challenge in solidarity with refugee and migrant women and girls. 

Sign Up To Walk With MIRIAM 

 

  • Walk ‘n’ Talk Group on Campus 

Wednesday 23rd June, 14:00-15:30 

To book your place, please email cheryl.woodhouse@reading.ac.uk

 

  • Fragments 

A recording of a recent evening of theatre, written and performed by refugees in Berkshire.  

  • Supposed To Be 

A UK Refugee based in Reading who teamed up with @iamjermainebless_official, a spoken word / rapper in Reading to help tell his story.

Click here to watch

 

 

 

  • Reading Community Cup – World Refugee Day Football Tournament 

Sunday 20th June, 10:00-15:00

Venue: D Pitches (located behind the dome), Madjeski Stadium, Shooters Way, Reading, RG2 0FL 

In celebration of International Refugee Day, RRSG are launching Reading’s first Community Cup! Participants will be: Berkshire’s only refugee football team, Sanctuary Strikers FC, along with teams from University of Reading, Thames Valley Police and Reading West, the competition aims: “to promote unity and integration through the international language of football.” 

Teams: Giving Back United (UoR), Reading  West, Sanctuary Strikers FC, Thames Valley Police 

The Reading Community Cup is created in partnership with Reading FC Community Trust, University of Reading, Reading City of Sanctuary and Reading Refugee Support Group.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

UoR IDAHOBIT Virtual Flag Raising Event 2021

by UoR Central D&I Team 

 

What is IDAHoBiT? 

31 years ago – on May 17, 1990 – the World Health Organisation removed homosexuality from the Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems. International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, and Transphobia (IDAHOBIT) celebrates LGBT+ people globally, and raises awareness for the work still needed to combat discrimination. 

 

Here at UoR, we mark IDAHOBIT annually with a flag raising event, accompanied by speeches delivered from staff and student representatives. In 2021, although we were not able to be together in-person for the event, we marked IDAHOBIT via Teams. In this blog, we wanted to capture the speeches that were delivered by our staff and students.  

 

Parveen Yaqoob
(she/her) 
Deputy Vice-Chancellor, UEB LGBT+ Champion  

“I’d like to extend a warm welcome to you all to this flag-raising to mark International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia, celebrated in over 130 countries, even in some of the places that still criminalise homosexuality. I want to say a few words about why we do this and why it’s important. 

There are still over 70 countries that criminalise homosexuality. Every year, people lose lives fighting for equality. Even in countries which seem to support equality, discrimination results in limited access to healthcare, adoption, insurance, inheritance rights- the list goes on. On days like today we raise awareness and visibility as part of a movement to create a safer world. We do this to speak up for those that do not have those rights and to challenge discrimination wherever it arises. 

The theme for this year’s IDAHOBIT is “Together: Resisting, Supporting, Healing”. It was chosen because of the chaos, heartbreak and struggles of the past year and the fact that the pandemic will have lasting impact on social activism and the fight for equal rights, both positive and negative. 

The University has an important legacy in the form of a landmark report published by our former Vice-Chancellor, Lord Wolfenden in 1957 (known as the Wolfenden Report), which later led to the decriminalisation of same-sex relationships. 

We’re working hard towards inclusive practices, which includes LGBT+ networks, role models, an Allies programme and many more examples. But there is still more to do! 

We must ensure that LGBT+ inclusion remains on our agenda because we want the University to be a place where everyone can be their true selves and where respect is fundamental and heartfelt.” 

 

Rachel Wates
(she/her) 
RUSU Diversity Officer 2020-21 

“The theme for this year’s IDAHOBIT is “Together: Resisting, Supporting and Healing!” due to the pandemic having an impact on the fight for equal rights.  

Reflecting on my own experience this theme seems more than fitting and truly does resonate with me. This is because it is only through being together and working in unity that I believe I have been able to deliver virtual talks such as the Bi Inclusion Training and the great Bi discussion alongside the University and student societies respectfully.  

Additionally, it was through supporting and healing was I able to reflect and move on from my own experiences with biphobia online and I am so happy and grateful to be working with such a progressive Students’ Union and University who do not shy away from addressing these matters.  

However, I just wanted to take a moment to discuss where in some places around the world LGBT+ discrimination still very much prevalent. From my experience living in Malaysia for a term abroad, to reading in the news about a young 20-year-old boy in Iran named Ali Reza Fazeli-Monfared who was executed for being gay just a week or so ago – we need to acknowledge that there is still a lot of progress and work that needs to be done surrounding inequality.” 

 

Lennox Bruwer
(they/them) 
RUSU Trans Student Officer 2020-21
 

“In 2021, we still honour International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, Intersexphobia and Transphobia because discrimination against LGBT individuals is still prevalent both in Britain and worldwide. This discrimination manifests both in highly visible ways, but also in subtler, institutionalised ways, particularly against LGBT+ people of colour, women, disabled people, immigrants and other marginalised identities. 

So, I’m calling on allies to make it known that discrimination against LGBT people is never tolerated. It’s not something you can ignore out of politeness. If you have the power to challenge discrimination within your social groups, your colleagues, your communities, do so. Sometimes allyship comes in the form of calling out discrimination, and sometimes it’s in the smaller actions too. For example, Instagram recently updated their interface so you’re able to include your pronouns in your profile. When allies share their pronouns, it normalises it when trans people like me do the same. Making it clear that you’re an ally helps LGBT people know that there is a safe space available to be themselves without fear of discrimination or prejudice. 

To my LGBT+ peers, I know that the conversation around LGBT+ discrimination is hard, so thank you for being here and continuing to fight the good fight, and I’m always here to talk if you need a space to be heard.” 

 

Dr Ruvi Ziegler
(he/his) 
LGBT+ Staff Network Co-Chair 

“The International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia is marked on the 17th of May to commemorate the World Health Organization’s decision in 1990, just 31 short years ago, to declassify homosexuality as a mental disorder.  

As we mark IDAHOBIT, we reflect on the fact that, while we have witnessed significant legal advances in LGBT+ equality in parts of the world, in 2021, there remain many places where LGBT+ persons are not free to live, thrive, and be partnered to whomever they wish. LGBT+ persons’ experiences are shaped globally by criminal sanctions and oppression, social barriers, intolerance, and unwillingness to accept and recognise them for they are. Of 194 countries surveyed by ILGA- the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, and Intersex Association, over 2 billion people live in 70 countries the world over where consensual homosexuality between adults is illegal. Only 66 countries offer broad legal protection against discrimination based on sexual orientation.  

Some of those seeking refuge from persecution on grounds of sexual orientation come to our shores. I am proud that the university, jointly with Reading city of sanctuary and the Reading refugee support group, has relaunched the sanctuary scholarship scheme designed to enable 12 students at all study levels who are asylum-seekers or who have received a protection status in the UK to come to study here. 

But we must not forget that, even in political spaces where LGBT+ people enjoy legal protections, we still face serious challenges. Alarmingly, according to a recent YouGov survey, 26% of UK adults would be ashamed to have an LGBT+ child. Therefore, IDAHOBIT is fundamentally important wherever you are, as it is a day that gives the LGBT+ community and its allies the world over the opportunity to celebrate the social and political advancements in LGBT+ equality but also to reflect on the work that remains to be done to make our communities truly inclusive.  

It is, also a great opportunity for employers – like the University of Reading – to help raise awareness about tackling LGBT+ discrimination and show support by being visible allies. As co-Chair of the LGBT plus staff network, I would like to invite our Staff and PGR students who identify as Lesbian, Gay, Bi, Trans and/or other sexual and gender identities, such as asexual, non-binary, intersex– as well as LGBT+ people with multiple identities, and allies – to join us. Let’s continue to work together to make our university as inclusive and welcoming a space as it can be.”  

 

 

Following these speeches, we took a moment to view the rainbow flag flying over our Whiteknights campus. We hope to be able to gather around the flagpole in-person next year. Nonetheless, being able to mark IDAHOBIT virtually and listen to these speeches was equally as important.  

 

As we closed the event, we shared some points we felt that everyone in the UoR community could do beyond IDAHOBIT and incorporate into our daily lives:  

  • Add your personal information through ESS Your personal data is kept confidential and used in an aggregated form to help us see a more accurate picture of our UoR staff demographic which allows us to better understand our staff and where resources may need to be prioritised. 
  • Participate in UoR LGBT+ training sessions– Trans Inclusion, Bi Inclusion, Becoming an Ally to LGBT+ Staff and Students.
     
  • Join more events – there is an upcoming event organised by ENEI ‘LGBTQ+ Culture Around the World’ on 24th June 2021 from 13:00-14:00 BST. This event is free to UoR staff as we’re members of ENEI. 
      
  • Join the LGBT+ Staff Network(s)as a member or an ally.
  • Contact your local Diversity Lead and see how you can get involved within your own school or function. 
     
  • Call out bad behaviour – use the UHT method, watch Stonewall’s #NoBystanders video. 
     
  • Normalise including your pronouns – in your email signature, introductions and bio. 
     
  • Check out the #DiverseReading blog – if you would like to share something on the blog, send an email to diversity@reading.ac.uk