Recently, the Student Union hosted The Great Debate 2017, an event in which students were encouraged to bring their concerns forward to a panel of university and Student Union leaders. I asked a question regarding the treatment of gender non-conforming people, and have transcribed the responses below. Every ‘-‘ dash indicates filler speech.
If you have any comments or feedback you want the LGBT+ Network to know, please contact me via the feedback tab on this site. I also encourage all students who identify as gender non-conforming or trans to join our new Trans Voices Group, which you can do by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org – Chris
QUESTION (CHRIS SMITH, LGBT+ OFFICER): As a society, how do you believe we can become more inclusive of all gender identities and how can we fight against discrimination of gender non-conforming people?
SHEARER WEST, UNIVERSITY OF NOTTINGHAM VICE CHANCELLOR: How we do it I don’t know but can I just agree with you that we should be doing it, there may bright ideas on the table-
SARAH O’HARA, PRO-VICE-CHANCELLOR FOR EDUCATION AND STUDENT EXPERIENCE : So there has been a fair bit of discussion in the past about things, just like – it would be around bathrooms and loos, about having genderless bathroom facilities which I think is something we can do within this institution quite easily, but we also have to accommodate for people who have very different views, so for example some people would prefer them to be single sex, some people, you know, don’t, so there are lots of things we can do but as an institution we have done a lot of work with the LBGT community, we have, – we’ve done a lot of work with the trans community and recently I – opened an event which we had down on Jubilee Campus where we had Paris Lees come and talk to us and she described her experience and Paris – I don’t know whether any of you know Paris Lees – but she’s from Nottingham and she talked about her – you know, her life on a council estate in Nottingham, and what it was like going at that time as a young boy to prison and going through this period of transition and what it was like and – it was a really interesting discussion because afterwards there was quite a bit of debate around – trangender(ed?) people, who were then getting into a debate with a group of – people in the room who said that they didn’t identify – with a gender so you’ve got quite complicated, what was going on. But I think as an institution… (unclear) we should be open to anybody regardless of their sexuality, their gender, it’s about them being decent people who want to work at this University and respect the University and that should be, you know, how we operate.
LILLIAN GREENWOOD, MP, NOTTINGHAM SOUTH: I think some of the key three things, I think first of all is the fact about University setting its values, saying that it is committed to inclusivity and it’s committed to equality and I think it’s starts from the statement of values, then it’s about policy so that’s what are the things that we need to put into place to put those values into action and I think an important part of developing that, especially as this is a, you know, this is a moving – situation, which is something that would change in this society and become far more open and we’re doing really well in terms of – I think, you know, being more inclusive and – having/ so I think there needs to be a discussion – about what that means and listening to people’s views about how we can make it a more inclusive and what sort of policies and practises we’re having – in place, and the third is, and of course this has become, you know, heightened in recent weeks in a broader sense around harassment and people’s experiences of harassment and discrimination, because we’ve got to have clear procedures , we’ve got to encourage people that if they, if there is something that happens, that they know what – that they can report it, that they’ll be listened to, that they’ll be taken seriously, that they’ll be supported, and that there’s measures in place to deal with unacceptable behaviour. So I think that’s how we fight discrimination but we kind of have to have, it starts from a position of values and in policy and then action.
SHEARER WEST VC: I think Lillian’s put that extremely succinctly – all I’d say personally as an incoming Vice Chancellor that in my previous roles , senior leadership roles in other institutions, equality, diversity and inclusion has been a huge element of what I’ve worked on in those institutions, and there have been some very effective outcomes of that and I would want to bring those values into my role here and – as Lillian says it’s values, then it’s policy, and then it’s – sort of – no tolerance for – the kind of negative behaviour that sometimes people experience.
ALAN HOLEY, STUDENT UNION PRESIDENT: Yeah I couldn’t agree more with – Sarah, Shearer and Lillian – I think anyone can express themselves in any shape or form that they so please – I feel like to improve the sense of belonging for LGBT+ members is the fact that to try and increase the understanding to a lot of people because it’s still a matter of, not contention but a lot of students still – and staff – still don’t actually understand all the different – sorry if I say this wrong, but all the different… (in crowd: identities) identities, that’s it – all the different identities and I think that understanding will help underpin – less discriminatory things to happen and I think that’s important to understand.