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LGBT experts set the agenda for DMU's new research centre

Academic researchers and LGBT professionals came together at a conference today, to set the agenda for De Montfort University Leicester’s (DMU) new Centre for LGBTQ Research.

The Taking Pride conference brought together researchers and voluntary organisations in health, sexual health and well-being, as part of the series of #DMUpride events taking place during LGBT History Month.

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It highlighted current research and collaborations at DMU through talks, Q&A sessions and workshops from LGBT professionals.

Professor Julie Fish, the new research centre’s Director, said: “Our conference forms an important milestone in acknowledging LGBT people’s right to health. For too long, LGBT people have been considered by medicine to be unhealthy.

“Today, we’ve brought together students, staff, the local community and voluntary sector to set the agenda for the new research centre. It will conduct innovative and collaborative research to improve the health and well-being of LGBT communities from all walks of life.

“It is no accident that the centre is based here at DMU. Under our Vice Chancellor’s leadership DMU has leapt 17 places in the Stonewall Top 100 Employers league table, an annual audit of workplace culture for LGBT staff.”

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Chaka Bachmann, a Research Officer from Stonewall - Britain’s leading charity for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality – presented findings from the 2015 research report Unhealthy Attitudes.

Chaka said: "Health and social care services have a duty to treat people fairly and equally. Yet, our research shows that there are worrying gaps in knowledge and training relating to LGBT people, leading to a healthcare system that treats both its LGBT patients and colleagues unfairly.

"Our research highlights the importance of investing in and committing to LGBT equality. At DMU’s conference I highlighted how Stonewall, and LGBT people and organisations, have the skills and resources to work with healthcare providers, health and social care education providers, NHS Trusts and social care organisations to achieve this.

“We want to ensure that everyone, everywhere is accepted without exception."

Other areas of discussion included LGB people’s experiences of cancer care by DMU’s Dr Iain Williamson and eradicating health inequalities among gay and bisexual men by Paul Flowers, Professor of Sexual Health Psychology at Glasgow Caledonian University.

Representatives from Trade Sexual Health, a health charity working with the LGBT community of Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland, talked about how data can be used to improve services.

A film about LGBT activism in Uganda and the social climate which led to the brutal murder of activist David Kato - Call me Kuchu – was also screened.

This was followed by the perspectives of LGBT refugees and asylum seekers who have set up the group Pride Without Borders in Leicester. 

Four workshops focussed on the international volunteering opportunities available to DMU students; LGBT people’s experiences of cancer; older LGBT people’s health and well-being; and young transgender people’s health and well-being.

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The latter was delivered by Lisa Vine, the project lead for the Young Transgender Centre of Excellence, a project supporting young transgender people aged 0-18 and their families and carers in Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland.  

Lisa said: “I have seen first-hand the struggles that the young transgender community faces in the Leicester region.

“Running a workshop at DMU's conference was a fantastic opportunity to highlight the services the project offers and to work with local partners to look at ways of improving the care pathway for young transgender people locally.

“Supported by BBC Children in Need, this project is a first of its kind in the Midlands and with the growing numbers of young transgender people and the lack of specialist support available, it really is needed now more than ever.”

Sarah Thomson, DMU Director of Strategic Partnerships and co-chair of the LGBT staff network, said: “DMUpride has grown from a week-long activity last year to a whole month this year. It shows a real commitment from the university to support and promote the issues related to LGBT identities and to celebrate those identities here on our campus and within our city.

“Our conference provided a unique space to discuss some of the very current debates surrounding LGBT people and their health, which is so important.”

Posted on Wednesday 24th February 2016

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