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University of Winchester to record gay staff and students

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  1. Jock S. Trap 21 Jun 2011, 11:55am

    It’s about time too really.

    1. It is a good idea but “Gay lists” like this need to be done properly to avoid segregation.
      Whats wrong with listing every student and the staff on the campus website alongside their sexuality rather than gay only list that are ripe for abuse?

      1. Bad idea. The straights would put straight, the out gays and lesbians would put gay/lesbian and the rest would put ‘choose not to say’ or whatever and be then subject to peer pressure to jump one way or the other. People should come out when they choose, not when a system forces them.

  2. Stuart Neyton 21 Jun 2011, 12:06pm

    I’m out at university, am heavily involved in the LGBT network (was on the committee last year) and have no problem telling people of my sexual orientation, but there’s no way in hell i’d join some list of gay staff and students. My academic tutor isn’t aware of my sexual orientation and i have no plans on telling him as i have no idea how he’d react. I’m absolutely not okay with staff being able to look up and find out who is gay and who isn’t.

    If staff and students want to “meet each other and plan events” then there need to be networks to get involved in. I think all universities have LGBT networks or societies and my uni, Nottingham, certainly has a staff LGBT network. But there isn’t much cooperation because not all staff members (or postgrads) are out to their students and don’t want it brought up in seminars “ooh i saw you at xyz lgbt event”.

    Societies just need improving, but a list is a horrible idea.

    1. What a very sensible, considered comment. Thanks Stuart, i TOTALLY AGREE. the idea of a list is all rather weird actually!!!

    2. FeministSmithie 21 Jun 2011, 1:35pm

      If your tutor believes that you are straight, then you are not ‘out.’

      How do you propose improving society if you are not willing to come out?

      Sexual prejudice (homophobia) survives in society because it is largely unchallenged. Each person who comes out challenges the heterosexism of our society. Each outing challenges the misconception that everyone is hetero, and that homosexuals are aberrant and wrong.

      You are hurting yourself and others by not coming out.

      1. Stuart Neyton 21 Jun 2011, 2:09pm

        He doesn’t “believe that i’m straight” and i’m not “not willing to come out”, i just don’t see any reason why i should tell him and i’m uncomfortable that he’ll be able to find out by looking at some homolist.

        1. James Randall 21 Jun 2011, 2:12pm

          Don’t put your name on the list then. It’s still a good idea for people who want to make a positive difference.

        2. FeministSmithie 21 Jun 2011, 2:22pm

          Sadly, because of the heterocentrism of our society, anyone not known to be gay is presumed straight.

          Remember also that these lists are for allies as well.

          1. de Villiers 21 Jun 2011, 6:53pm

            >Sadly, because of the heterocentrism of our society
            Sadly? Heterocentrism? These comments are almost at right angles to reality. There can be no proper complaint that heterosexuality is considered to be normative behaviour.

          2. FeministSmithie 22 Jun 2011, 2:46am

            de Villiers, I don’t think you understand heterocentrism: it is a system rationalizing and teaching sexual stigma. Heterocentrism doesn’t just mean it’s normal to be hetero, it justifies discrimination (Herek, 2004). Can we agree on the unfortunate nature of such a system?

    3. Max Morris 21 Jun 2011, 1:56pm

      I too, am out at university, and am heavily involved in the LGBT society (Liverpool uni). I really don’t understand your fear of coming out at all. If your tutors are going to discriminate against you, that’s against university policy, and against the law. You have nothing to lose (or worry about). However, students who want to know if there are members of staff they can confide in, or LGBT friends on their course, have everything to gain from this idea.

      The problem with LGBT societies is that they’re rubbish. No one cares about the evnts they organise, and staff have absolutely no interest in them. This isn’t about events, it’s about making a public declaration to create solidarity with your fellow homos. I’m going to campaign for my uni to do the same.

      1. Stuart Neyton 21 Jun 2011, 2:20pm

        i really don’t think anyone who wouldn’t get involved in the LGBT societies would sign up to this list though.

        This wasn’t the case for me when i was a fresher but i’ve been told a couple of the private halls of residence ask about sexual orientation and tend to put LGBT people living there together, which may perhaps be more useful given the homophobia i experienced in halls (and many others do too).

        I know what you mean about societies though

        1. The experiences of the lists in US has been that it has been positive in pdeveloping acceptance and tolerance on university campuses and provided mentoring and support opportunities that would not otherwise have existed.

    4. @Stuart Neyton – if you are posting under your real name, is it not just possible that someone on the staff might tip your tutor the wink having read the postings you made here? So, whilst you may have “no plans on telling him as i have no idea how he’d react”, you may find out anyway.

  3. This is such a great idea. I’m going to start campaigning to get a list introduced at my university. There really is no social stigma attached anymore, and as students, everyone knows about our sexuality anyway from facebook!

    Just imagine, when prospective students are looking for a university they can simply check out the ‘outlist’ to see how inclusive their institution is.

    “Oh, there are three gay lecturers in the sociology department, and a lesbian professor in History” – Awesome!

  4. Even better for Trans students, who can often be even more isolated in big universities. The problem is, LGBT societies aren’t very appealing to most students – that’s why membership is low. This way, students can find LGBT academic staff and fellow students with similar interests.

  5. It sounds like a good idea but my sister is a teacher (although not at uni) and she can’t even tell her students that i’m gay as it may be used to peoples advantage. I accept uni is more mature but I can’t imagine many uni lecturers wanting to tell there students about there sexuality for similar reasons. As a lecturer/teacher you have a certain responsibility to keep your personal and professional lives separate.

    1. FeministSmithie 21 Jun 2011, 1:38pm

      How would your sexuality be used against your sister–presumably in the UK? If it is, that is discrimination, and against the law.

      As long as conservatives maintain the division between public and personal, minorities will face discrimination. Once the personal (which is not the same as private!) becomes political (which is public), sexuality will no longer be acceptable as a stigmatized status.

      1. Have you ever tried suing a High school kid for being homophobic or even trying to get anything done about it. Its one of the reasons why so many kids feel helpless at school because there is very little an LGBT kid can do. Aswell kids often look for faults in there teachers such as favoritism. Imagine if an out gay kid is praised by my sister she could easily be accused of favoritism due to there sexuality. I know it happens I’ve seen similar things happen because of race, same goes for sexuality

        1. FeministSmithie 22 Jun 2011, 2:51am

          Teachers have more options for recourse than suing on their side, from disciplinary options to mediation.

          If teachers do not offer a welcoming place for students of all kinds, its no wonder LGBTQ youth face bullying.

      2. de Villiers 21 Jun 2011, 6:56pm

        FeministSmithie, you sound as if you have swallowed a university text-book or are flexing newly found intellectual muscles. I thought it was only in Europe (not the UK) that people indulged in such intellectualism in public.

        1. FeministSmithie 22 Jun 2011, 2:49am

          An anti-intellectual, I should have guessed. I feel no remorse at having offended your sensibilities by trying to use reasoning rather than rhetoric. Do you have an argument for why it is wrong to be intellectual in public, or are grunts & groans your chosen medium of communication?

        2. de Villiers 23 Jun 2011, 12:29am

          FeministSmithie, your reference to grunts and groans makes you sound like an American. Your over-the-top insults also seem particularly Anglo-Saxon.
          The reference was to your unnecessarily inelegant use of complicated language. Anglo-Saxon intellectuals seem to implement language. C’est un poids bien pesant.

          1. FeministSmithie 23 Jun 2011, 1:44pm

            Yes, I’m from the US. So what?

            You still haven’t explained what is wrong with being rational. Your initial complaint concerned “intellectualism in public”, not my application of language.

            If you want to address language, why glamorize common speech? (and then throw in some French)

          2. de Villiers 24 Jun 2011, 12:06am

            I am French. Hence the use of it. You, by your language and behaviour, are very much American. It was to that where the criticism was directed – and the reference to swallowing a textbook.
            My criticism of your intellectual language was, as I have said, that it was unnecessarily complicated and inelegant. My wider criticisms of public intellectualism are that it is self-indulgent and divorced from reality; to be understood and celebrated only by the anointed.

  6. This is wholly voluntary and aimed, I presume, to encourage people to be comfortable in their own skins.

    All colleges and universities should have, separately, an anonymous diversity monitoring process recording the ethnicity, religious affiliation or none (if any), gender and sexual orientation of all applicants, admissions, degree awards, grant awards etc, so that monitoring can take place to see if there is institutional discrimination apparent or if there is apparent under-representation in minority groups. The aim is to enable questions to be asked about systems, not to follow up individual cases (unless of course someone has an individual case and wants it pursued). My last employer counted “Choose not to say” as a response, but supplied managers in confidence with names of those existing employees who did not respond at all. In a college context, I would expect completion (with that option) to be mandatory. Data is key to analysis.

    1. Your enthusiasm runs ahead of sense, and you will find that this would be strongly discouraged in respect of gender identity. In the case of anyone who has a Gender Recognition Certificate it would be fully illegal unless explicit permission was given. Those without would be fully entitled to take action under data protection law.

      For some reason you remind me of the management of Facebook.

  7. Scott Davidson 21 Jun 2011, 1:01pm

    We did this at my American exchange university. It was fantastic. Hundreds of people signed up. It helps counter the heteronormative assumption pervasive in education that sexuality is ‘private’. It’s only gays that have had to be private/secret, heterosexual teachers are always talking about their husbands/wives, etc. It’s stupid to say that it’s ‘professional’ to deny your partner publicly. keeping your sexuality from your students is like asking people not to talk about their ethnic origins to their students.

    This is a great idea to promote visibility and equality, and let incoming students know where to find a community of support.

    It’s a voluntary list, so there really is no need for LGBT resistance to an idea designed to promote LGBT social equality!

    1. FeministSmithie 21 Jun 2011, 1:40pm

      Yes! I completely agree!

      1. Max Morris 21 Jun 2011, 1:48pm

        Fantastic point about the privilege of heteronormativity. I don’t think any opposition to this stands up.

  8. James Randall 21 Jun 2011, 1:37pm

    I wish this had been around when I was at uni. It would have been so cool to know if any of my teachers (and fellow students) were gay.

    I think any university that doesn’t introduce this system will be left behind. By not having it, they’re making a statement that it’s not acceptable to be out to your students and colleagues! I hope to see more institutions do the same.

  9. Peter Bryant 21 Jun 2011, 1:51pm

    I think this is an excellent idea. Whilst at university students are often given Tutors and Mentors to help them adjust to university life and there first real taste of independence. There are often situations where students may not feel comfortable discussing aspects of there sexuality or LGBTQ relationships with a member of staff they believe are “straight” as it can difficult for said staff to truly put themselves in the students shoes.
    An out-list would be a good idea for not only improving LGBTQ visibility. But a way of giving LGBTQ students a list of individuals to which they can seek support.

  10. Brian Fraser 21 Jun 2011, 2:01pm

    I personally think it would be of great use to students to know members of staff that were openly LGBT. I always wished at school (and to an extent university, though I had other support networks there) that I had an openly gay teacher, as I would certainly have taken the opportunity to talk to them. You can talk to other LGBT people your age but they haven’t much experience in the kind of worries that come up (such as discrimination in interviews, should I put my work with the LGBT society on a CV or is it a bad idea?). Certain issues young people have can only be answered by those who have been there and done that, and knowing there was a member of staff to help you, even if just in private instead of a large ‘event’ would certainly help students who are still in the process of coming out.

  11. We no longer live in a post victorian britain. We should be modernising britain in every shape or from. Homosexuality is not a crime and everyone should be able to speak out and be who they want to be in life without homophobic critisim, This is a great idiea and will help alot of people come to terms with there sexuality and not have to hide away or be ashamed about who they are. Its bring awarness for not only students but teachers also its a great idiea.

  12. Ryan Johnson 21 Jun 2011, 2:18pm

    Mirroring Max’s comments, the LGBT societies at universities are, in my experience, not attended by a majority of LGBT students. I’m a student at Winchester and intend to add my name to the list, because I think it’s a great way of bringing LGBT staff and students together.

  13. Tom Stoppard 21 Jun 2011, 4:35pm

    I’m a lecturer at a university, and “out”, though there are LGBT people I know who are not. I’d be happy to go on such a list. Yes, I have experienced hostility a couple of times because of my sexuality but that makes me all the more determined to fight it. You don’t get change without a struggle. But I wouldn’t want to force people to go on the list – it’s a personal choice.

  14. Jarrett Chamberlin 21 Jun 2011, 5:33pm

    On the topic of LGBT societies – These things are not necessarily everyone’s ‘cup of tea’.

    I think this list would be a great idea if everyone who wanted to list themselves as LGBTQ friendly without the need of joining a society which may or may not do activities that they are interested in!

    I think it’d also be a great way for “not out” students to meet staff / other students to talk about their sexuality with without the need for aimlessly guessing at who they can and can’t talk to.

  15. Many moons ago at school my confidential report, which I happened to see, had a large H on the front.
    So, by coincidence had at least one other lads.
    Between us we worked out that it was those boys that had been identified (by the teachers) has homosexual.
    It was blinkered discrimination and to do so now, to have lists, is little more than the same.

    1. Except this is a positive, self-identifying, form of discrimination. Currently, in the very gay-friendly UK universities no one would face any kind of persecution for being on such a list. And even if they did face persecution or discrimination, they would at least know who to go to for help and advice. It’s a win win.

    2. A very curious practice and not one I’ve ever heard of a school doing before – do they still, I wonder?

      1. Errr, you were just singing praise of the idea of data being kept on everyone!

        Schools are small enough for people to not need to put such data on paper. I was obviously thought of in that way, in a 770 pupil school, so that, the one and only time I was ever seen walking and talking with another pupil (around edge of the sports field whilst “forgot to bring sports kit”, and talking about a history essay, as it happens), we were both up in front of the headmaster within the hour, accused of homosexuality, with expulsion threatened. I actually laughed, because I was seriously not interested (being transsexual and totally off sex until I was female, but saying that would have had me sectioned). That was too quick for me not to have been “suspect”. But then teachers had always been clearly terrified of being seen talking to me. The deputy head wouldn’t even cane me!

        This was just before homosexuality was decriminalised, but even after that I would have been under age.

  16. When I was at Manchester (UMIST) in 1966 a senior lecturer took a couple of students, myself included, for a drink in a nearby pub, the Rembrandt. That outed him to us, and gave us a chance to out ourselves to him. It must have cost him a lot of money to work through – buying drinks, that is – the 50 in our year. But I don’t think an open list run by the university is necessarily the idea. For one thing, people do not come out all at once, first term at university. So initially the list might be mostly staff and 2nd years onwards. Not everyone arrives at university read to come out right away and not everyone wants to come out to the whole gay world at once.

  17. Whatever the pros and cons, doesn’t this enforce separateness instead of working towards inclusion?
    If this is needed, why not a straight list, a religious affiliation list, a transgender list, etc, etc.
    Academia is sometimes a little misguided when “publish or perish” is at stake…..

  18. Robin Evans 23 Jun 2011, 2:06am


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