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By Jon Cornejo on 20.7.2023

Kent Uni scores highly in Stonewall’s guide to gay-friendly universities

In the coming weeks prospective students will be making final decisions on which university to go to and will be figuring out which university caters to their specific needs. To help make this decision a little easier for LGBT people gay charity Stonewall has today published a guide to universities gay-friendliness. Stonewall has chosen not to create a league table because many universities are making an effort to improve and that “gay-friendliness” means different things to different students. Instead they have created a 10 point checklist covering a wide range of issues faced by the LGBT community.

While no institution scored 10 out of 10 Birmingham, Bradford, Cambridge, Cardiff, the University of Central Lancashire and King’s College London, among others, meet nine out of 10 of the criteria, while Huddersfield, Strathclyde and Teesside meet only two – which means they have more work to do. Contrary to expectations there was no big rural/city divide in the guide, many institutions in big cities did well across both checklist and the more general criteria, and so did institutions in much smaller places, such as Aberystwyth.

The University of Kent came out quite well in the guide, scoring 8 out of 10 in the checklist. While this is a good result it does show there is more to do to improve our status. UKC has been praised for having a strong society/campaign and staff group, policy against LGBT bullying, Welfare support for LGBT students, consultation with LGBT students, events for LGBT students, providing counselling services for LGBT students, compulsory staff training on LGBT issues and providing specific carreer advise for LGBT students. However we have missed out on 2 key points for a lack of information for students on LGBT issues and for not being members of Stonewalls Diversity Champions scheme. These are areas that we must work on improving, it is shocking that information on LGBT issues is not widely available to students. We also must continue work on improving the criteria we have already met, for example there is much more that could be done to improve staff training on LGBT issues and improving existing services for LGBT students. Here is the description of UKC that’s been published in the guide as well as Stonewall’s checklist on gay-friendliness:

“Kent is a friendly university with campuses in Canterbury and Medway. London is a short train ride away, so it’s become a popular choice for applications. Kent also has sites in Brussels and Paris (neither of which we were aware were in Kent), where students can spend a year learning languages in between eating crepes, looking aloof and listing to French hip-hop.

LGBT activities are divided between the social events of the UKC LGBT soc and the more political leanings of the Liberation Campaign. Canterbury’s gay scene is small, with a mix of gay and gay-friendly venues, but the train to London is an easy option. The UKC also runs an LGBT night called ‘Stardust’ at the Student Union.”

Gay-friendly checklist:
1. Have a harassment policy that specifically mentions sexual orientation
2. Train staff on LGBT issues, and make the training mandatory
3. Have an LGBT staff network – if staff feel comfortable about being open, so will students
4. Have a strong LGBT student society
5. Make sure information on LGBT issues is widely available
6. Organise specific events for LGBT students
7. Make LGBT counselling available
8. Consult LGBT students
9. Offer LGBT student targeted careers advice
10. Be a member of Stonewall’s Diversity Champions programme, a forum for sharing good practice and research on sexual orientation.And preferably, have a lively local gay scene.

The full guide is available at this website: http://www.gaybydegree.org.uk/university/university.html

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