Role: Student Support and Wellbeing Manager (Medway Campus), Student Services
Why do you want to be a straight ally?
I feel very strongly that all staff and students should feel supported in whatever they do and I realise that coming out to friends and colleagues can be difficult for some, without the support and understanding of those around them. LGBT+ colleagues and students need to know that they can feel safe and supported at the university and if I can go some way to helping this happen and making Kent a tolerant and respectful place to work and study, then that makes my role worthwhile. For LGBT+ colleagues, knowing that those around them are supportive and non-judgemental is important for their wellbeing and can help to create a better and happier working environment for everyone.
Why should straight people be involved in LGBT+ issues?
Why not? People from all walks of life are involved in supporting all sorts of issues and they do not always ‘fit’ the category they are supporting. Fighting discrimination is for everyone, no matter what kind of discrimination or who it is against.
What can straight allies do to make University of Kent a better place for being an LGBT+ staff member?
Straight allies, in openly showing their support for LGBT+ colleagues, can help to influence the environment in which we all work. By tackling discrimination in the workplace and being involved in LGBT+ events on campus we can help to increase awareness and reduce prejudice. Being based at the Medway campus, I make every effort to ensure that LGBT+ staff here have the same opportunities as colleagues in Canterbury and have volunteered as the Vice-Chair for Medway to ensure the Medway LGBT+ voice is heard. I have previously run events at Medway for IDAHOT and will ensure that other events and celebrations such as LGBT History Month are represented at the Medway campus.
Do you have any LGBT+ friends or family members or experiences that have shaped your interest in being a straight ally?
I have a transgender son who came out to me 3 years ago at the age of 16. He has been extremely fortunate to date with regards to support networks, having been well supported at school and now university, and having the support of friends and family; but he recognises that this may not always be the case and that he may face prejudice and discrimination when he enters the workplace. This has to stop. No-one should have to feel uncomfortable, or that prejudice is something they will just have to face and deal with.