Co-authored by Kat Frolov (she/her), Jo Tilly (she/they) and Zain Warsi (he/they).

Friday 17 May is IDAHOBIT (International Day Against Homophobia Biphobia and Transphobia). It marks the date in 1990 that homosexuality was removed from the WHO Classification of Diseases. While IDAHOBIT has evolved over the years, the purpose remains the same – celebrating the progress we have made while also raising awareness of the discrimination that LGBTQIA+ people still face. 

Unless you’ve been living under a rock recently, you would have heard about the issues continuing to face LGBTQIA+ people both in Australia and globally. Even in the last few months we have seen Councils banning library books that feature same-sex parents (which has thankfully now been reversed due to public outcry), parliamentary debates about ‘gay conversion practices’ and discrimination in religious schools, and ongoing political attacks on the human rights of trans people. Trans and gender diverse people face particular challenges affirming their gender socially, legally, and medically, while people with Innate Variations in Sex Characteristics (Intersex people) continue to experience unnecessary medical procedures that alter their sex characteristics.

Inclusion at UTS

UTS is committed to creating a university where everyone feels safe, valued and respected for who they are. We are building a more inclusive environment through initiatives including:

But there are things everyone can do to make our community more respectful and inclusive. 

Six tips for making your classroom and work areas more inclusive for LGBTQIA+ students and staff

  1. Share your pronouns: Platforms like Microsoft Teams and Zoom allow staff and students to include their pronouns in their profiles. This normalises the act of sharing pronouns and fosters a work and learning environment that ensures everyone is addressed in the way that makes them feel comfortable. Learn more about the importance of pronoun usage here.
  1. Use LGBTQIA+ content and examples in your course content and presentations. This not only helps LGBTQIA+ students and staff feel seen, but helps students to think about and reflect on the diversity they will inevitably experience in the workforce. 
  1. Reinforce respect: UTS is very clear about our expectations that students and staff will behave in a respectful way towards others in our community. Make these expectations clear at the beginning of semester and/or other appropriate occasions and let people know that they can get help if they do have bad experiences.  
  1. Name not shame: make sure you use people’s preferred names. This makes everyone feel more included but can be especially important for trans and gender diverse people who may have a different legal and preferred name. By using only legal names you can create real privacy issues for trans and gender diverse people and inadvertently out them. 
  1. Be a good bystander:  This might be by commenting that a homophobic or sexist joke is ‘not funny’ or that the way a co-worker treated a trans staff member was not acceptable or asking a family member to stop using words that are derogatory towards women. Research suggests that many people don’t like it when someone is sexist or homophobic, but no-one feels brave enough to say anything, so everyone assumes that the joke is acceptable. One person naming their discomfort can start a change to the social norms.   
  1. Share information about UTS support: Research continually shows that LGBTQIA+ people experience the negative impacts of discrimination on their health and wellbeing. The Australian Government’s recently released Gender Based Violence Action Plan for Higher Education also acknowledges that gender-based violence includes violence perpetrated against LGBTIQA+ people, and that LGBTIQA+ students, non-binary and trans students experience sexual harm at significantly higher rates than many other students. Making sure that LGBTQIA+ students (and staff) are aware of and can access support is vital. 

By actively working towards inclusion this IDAHOBIT, we can create a space where everyone at UTS feels valued, respected, and empowered to reach their full potential. 

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