LGBT+ History Month: Being Out at the University of Bath

Posted in: Events, LGBT+ history, News

Kaleidoscope recently held a discussion event that asked questions around being out in the workplace, specifically here at the University of Bath. As it is LGBT+ History Month, we wanted to share with the whole university community some of the key themes and quotes (anonymised) from that discussion...

The hardest thing can sometimes be admitting to yourself that you’re LGBT+

“I think the most difficult thing for me was actually outing to myself, to actually recognise who I am inside and fighting that.”

People are very different in terms of how open they want to be at work

“I work in Professional Services and I would say the department that I work in is probably known for being inclusive, and we work directly with students from all different backgrounds and that’s probably a big part of our remit, to me it’s not surprising that it didn’t really feel like a big deal, coming out.”

“It’s not as if I am secretive in the university, I wouldn’t not tell people, it’s just that I’ve never had any reason to say to anybody, you know, this is who I am and what I do.”

“I’m an academic staff member and ... I completely agree that coming to a new place ... there is always the question of how supportive the environment is going to be ... [it] can feel daunting and it can feel monumental and it always does, despite having gone through this process several times … I still remember the first definite incidence where I basically sent an email out to the department with the link to some article …. regarding … LGBT issues in academia ... I wasn’t sure how this would be taken, whether this would feel like it was out of place at the workplace for instance ... but after that I did feel that I got a lot of positive feedback from it...”

“I feel quite comfortable being out now, I’m in Professional Services and I’m in quite a nice department so everybody is really supportive. I came out in a meeting and afterwards everybody came up to me and was like, ‘if you need any support I’m here for you’, and things like that. But I was still shaking when I said it, even though I’d been out since I was 15 with my friends. Making it official at work still seemed like a bit of a big deal to me.”

“I’m a doctoral student … I am fairly comfortable with being out. I have been out for a while and it is like, kind of in my personal life so I don’t really see it as a separate ‘thing’ being out at university versus just being out when I’m with friends or in public. … [but] actually the first time I came out to my supervisors, that felt like a big deal ...”

Some staff feel the need to hide being LGBT+ from students

“I think in this university obviously you have got the academics who have got to portray a persona to their students and I think it’s not just with LGBT+ identities, it’s everything, you keep all of your personal life away from the students because it’s not something they should be seeing. You should almost be like on a pedestal.”

“ in my department ... I think academics are a little bit more open about their personal life ... not in detail, but I know my supervisor has children and goes on holiday, that’s quite a normal thing to talk about but I don’t know of any gay members of staff in my department but I went to a conference last year and I think the chair of the conference happened to be LGBT and just seeing that person, that role model there made a little difference to how I felt at that conference”

“ terms of a barrier that maybe I do have ... as somebody that works with students... I mean I don’t mind students knowing that I’m gay, it doesn’t really make a difference, I suppose it’s whether it makes a difference to them ... for some of them it might make it better because actually they can open up more about their difficulties but for others it might be, I don’t know, depending on their viewpoint they might be less comfortable with that, I don’t know...”

As a minority you can sometimes feel like an ambassador for your whole community

“The other is this issue of feeling like one is an ambassador for one’s community and then you are certainly tasked with holding up the flag for the community in more ways than one, and basically being responsible in some way for other people’s perceptions of the community as a whole.”

Kaleidoscope should support the Equality, Diversity & Inclusion team in any way we can

“The Equality Diversity and Inclusion team are overstretched. They are working on issues of race, gender and disability, so LGBT+ issues have not been a focus up until now. Kaleidoscope are currently helping out with potentially looking at getting on the Stonewall Equality Index, but that is a long-term project.”

Kaleidoscope should have increased presence at staff induction so to encourage people to be more open and feel more comfortable about being out at the University

“... it was surprising to me when I heard that there wasn’t a presence [The LGBT+ Staff and PGR group], or such a big presence at staff induction earlier in the year so I think that’s a big thing that the university could ... do to help.”

I know that there’s that half day induction, it would be great if someone from Kaleidoscope could go along and say ‘hey, this is us, this is what we do’. Every new member of staff has to go to that induction so it would be beneficial.”

Posted in: Events, LGBT+ history, News


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