Jo Pearsall – A Straight Ally for LGBT Staff

pearsallRainbowFlag2Role: Deputy Secretary of the Council
Department: Council Secretariat
Member of the University since: 2002

Put a poster up about an LGBT event, make it widely known that you are supportive and don’t tolerate inappropriate behaviour or conversations.

When did you join the University and what is your role?

I joined the University in 2002 as a part-time member of the Congregations Office.  Later that year I was made Congregations & Events Officer and by the time I left the department I was Congregations & Events Manager.  In 2008 I started working in Central Secretariat as an Administrative Assistant and that role developed over the years until the reorganisation of the Central Secretariat in 2013 which led to my being made Student Conduct and Complaints Officer in Student Services, reporting to the Director of Student Services.  From 7 April 2014 I have started a new role, as Deputy Secretary of the Council (and of the Court) in Council Secretariat.

Why do you want to be a straight ally?

I want to be a straight ally as I cannot imagine my life without my gay, lesbian and bisexual friends and because I do not believe that anyone should be discriminated against because of their sexual orientation, or indeed because of any of the protected characteristics listed in the Equality Act 2010.

Why should straight people be involved in LGBT issues?

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Jo performs as part of the University Cecilian Choir and Symphony Orchestra and was involved in a concert for LGBT History Month 2014 which celebrated the music of Benjamin Britten

There are many reasons, the first is a bit of a trivial one, but if you’re new in town and want to meet some wonderful, friendly, non-judgemental people, in my experience, LGBT people won’t let you down!  More seriously, although the issue of LGBT rights has come a long way, even since I first started becoming involved in the early 1990s, there are still issues that need to be addressed, here in the UK of course but also in other parts of the world.  The UK hasn’t always been as enlightened as one would hope that it is now.  Most people of my age will remember the protests against Section 28.  All I would like to do is to encourage others to accept people for who they are and for their own particular talents and experiences, not to dwell on differences.  As it says on the Stonewall T-shirt, “Some people are gay.  Get over it!”

What would you like to tell other staff at Kent who may be facing difficulties regarding their LGBT status at work or who are finding it difficult to come out at work?

Find someone that you can talk to confidentially about this if you feel it would help, perhaps one of our LGBT Staff Role Models or for more advice you could consult the contacts section on the LGBT Staff Network blog, link below:

https://blogs.kent.ac.uk/lgbtstaff/contact-us/

What can straight allies do?

To offer a friendly ear but also to champion things that are LGBT in a general way – for example put a poster up about an LGBT event, make it widely known that you are supportive and don’t tolerate inappropriate behaviour or conversations. Any straight person has the ability to serve as a “straight” role model, to try and influence the opinions of others, and although it may seem like you are making only a tiny difference, most equality movements have been influenced heavily by the help of tolerant members of the majority.

Do you have any LGBT friends or family members or experiences that have shaped your interest in being a straight ally?

I am grateful to my LGBT friends for making me the person that I am today and for the love, friendship and generosity that they have shown me over the years.  If I can help to make anything better for them and for others, I will do so.

What can we all do to make Kent a better place for being an LGBT Staff member?

Be tolerant of others, be kind, accept everyone for who they are, try not to stereotype and do not accept conversations/situations that you know are inappropriate.

 

RETURN TO ROLE MODELS DIRECTORY

 

 

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