Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Allies (LGBTQ and Allies) Network
The LGBTQ and Allies Staff Network Group meets regularly to celebrate diversity, discuss concerns, and to act as LGBTQ consultants for the university. The network is here to support you as an LGBTQ member of staff and to make sure that your voice is heard when it needs to be. The group is also open to allies - those who may not necessarily define themselves as LGBTQ+, but are interested in advancing and supporting the work of the group and advancing LGBTQ+ equality.
The current chairs of the network group are Julie Fish and Margaret Montgomerie. Any member of staff or PhD student can come along to a meeting and we very much welcome new members.
What we do
The LGBTQ and Allies Staff Network Group aims to:
- Provide a forum for LGBTQ+ staff (including those with multiple identities) from across all departments of the university to network and discuss issues that have an effect on us.
- Provide a voice for LGBTQ+ staff (including those with multiple identities) by offering a source of consultation on LGBTQ+ issues relating to university policies and practices.
- Assist with policy development on LGBTQ+ issues by providing advice and feedback to Human Resources and university committees.
The LGBTQ and Allies Staff Network Group has contributed to a number of campaigns and policies at DMU that have an impact on LGBTQ+ staff and students, including:
- The Stonewall Workplace Equality Index and continuing support
- Introducing #DMUPride as an annual event on DMU’s events calendar
- Providing representation on the Equality and Diversity Committee
- Being recognised by Stonewall as a ‘Highly Commended Network Group’ in 2017
How to get involved
There is a closed section of the meeting for members to hold confidential discussions in a supportive environment.
Members of the group are also happy to provide friendly support on LGBTQ+ matters to all staff of DMU who do not wish to attend meetings.
The network group are also closely aligned to the LGBTQ Research Centre at DMU, which is led by Professor Julie Fish.
Being a role model is aspirational and we need diverse ways of being so that students and staff across the university have the freedom to be. Being an LGBT role model inevitably means coming out. These are some of my reflections on coming out and how allies can help this process. For most of us, coming out is not an Ellen DeGeneres moment, where you open the dark closet door and step out into the bright sunlight of LGBT visibility. It’s not a once and for all experience like Ellen’s, where she came out and all the world knew; sometimes it’s a gentle tweak of the curtains and at others it’s something of a roller coaster ride.
Why do LGBT people come out? We come out because we want to engage in typical workplace conversations about what we did at the weekend, or we want to bring our partner to a workplace social or we simply want to say that our partner is poorly at the moment. If you are heterosexual, you don’t need to come out because you can be fairly sure that most people will have assumed that you are ‘straight’. But if we are LGB or T, we may pause, because in coming out we may then have to explain ourselves or open ourselves up to scrutiny. And for many of us, this is an additional hurdle we would rather do without.
There are lots of reasons why people don’t come out. It may be that we don’t fit the stereotype of what a ‘lesbian looks like’, or we have children, or we are from a BME background, or we are a person of faith, and so the assumption is that we can’t possibly be LGB or T. Some trans people may not wish to disclose because they are living in the gender identity they always should have been. We shouldn’t disclose on their behalf. Our identities are often complex, we do not fit neatly in to boxes. It can be an effort to explain. So, sometimes it’s purely pragmatic: we ask ourselves, does this person need to know? How will it affect my working relationship with them or the wider workplace environment?
Reactions to that first coming out may shape our decisions about whether we come out to others in the future. How might we respond as supportive allies? A low-key accepting response often works well. Reassure the person of your confidentiality and above all take things at their pace. They may only want to tell you and to live with that for a while to see how it feels.
The benefits of coming out are that we are not constantly looking over our shoulders or worrying who knows what about us. We can bring our whole selves to work and to our studies; and in doing, this we ourselves become role models. Being an LGBT role model helps to create an inclusive and safe environment for others. University can have a huge influence on our futures. Our time spent at DMU can help us to find the path to an authentic sense of self where we can have the freedom to be: we can achieve our potential in our studies, perform better at work and enjoy fuller and richer personal lives. Julie Fish, Co-Chair of the LGBTQ+A Network Group
Stonewall role model information booklet
Sarah Thomson - Director of Strategic Partnerships
Rusi Jaspal - Chair in Psychology and Sexual Health & Associate Director of Research
Dominic Shellard featured in Times Higher Education: 'How Welcoming is Academia to LGBT Staff'?
DMUPride 2015 Video
DMUPride 2017 Video
Martin Morgan-Taylor - UCU
Phil Adams - Equality and Diversity Co-ordinator - UNISON