York praised for ‘LGB-friendliness’

The Stonewall Gay By Degree guide has ranked the University of York as 8/10 on gay-friendliness

The University of York has scored highly in a guide ranking the ‘LGB-­friendliness’ of universities across Britain, conducted by the LGB rights group and registered charity Stonewall.

Stonewall rated a total of 158 institutions on a checklist of 10 different areas which offer support to LGB students to create an overall score out of 10 in the Gay By Degree Guide 2015.

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York was awarded a score of eight out of ten, along with another nine universities, including Derby, Durham and Exeter.

The criteria that institutions are scored on include having mandatory training for staff on policies which protect LGB students, having a society for LGB students that is advertised on the university’s student union website and holding LGB events.

The other measures that Stonewall believes should be taken are providing career advice for LGB students, consultation with these students on university policy­making, having an LGB staff network and being a member of Stonewall’s Diversity Champions Programme.

Engagement with the local community on lesbian, gay and bisexual matters is also taken into consideraton.

The provision of welfare and support for LGB students is also taken into consideration, alongside the existence of a monitoring system which asks students about their sexual orientation.

In total, six universities scored a maximum score of ten out of ten, including York St John University, marking a generally high score in the city as a whole.

Although this total of six institutions is only a very small figure out of a total of one hundred and fifty eight, it is up from zero universities with full­ marks when the list was first published back in 2010.

A further 11 universities, including Aberystwyth, UCLAN and Manchester, scored 9 out of 10.

Eleven institutions failed to meet any of the criteria for gay­-friendliness, including the Royal Academy of Music and Glasgow School of Art.

However, Stonewall is quick to point out that in the majority of cases, the small size of the institutions should be taken into account.

Maddie Boden, YUSU LGBTQ Officer, was delighted with the results.

She told Nouse: “We’re really pleased to see that our other local university, York St John, has achieved such a high mark in this ranking.

“The LGBTQ Network at the University of York does not work specifically with Stonewall for a number of reasons, but many of the targets Stonewall has set such as providing welfare and support, setting up a social space, having a staff forum, and engaging with the wider community are all goals that we have met and are looking forward to improving on this year.

“Additionally, we are proud to say that we include our trans* students in all of these markers, whereas Stonewall is only currently a LGB charity.”

The two points for which York was not awarded were being members of the Stonewall Diversity Champion scheme and for engagement with the wider community, but the University did meet all of the other criteria.

The guide did not collect information on support for queer or transgender students, although this is often included with other support for LGB students.

Across the board, the area in which universities did best was in having societies for LGB students, which 85 per cent of universities assessed did, as well as holding socials, which was undertaken by 72 per cent.

By contrast, the area in which institutions did poorest was in engaging with the wider community on lesbian, gay and bisexual issues. This includes the University of York.

Sam Maguire, YUSU President, was also pleased with York’s strong performance, but stressed the need for further work and suggested that the door could be opened to becoming a Stonewall Diversity Champion in the future.

He said: “While I am very happy that we meet a really high number of the requirements on the checklist, it is really important that we progress and fulfill the whole checklist.

“I think it would be really interesting to discuss with university staff the prospect of becoming a Stonewall Diversity Champion as it would be another step forward in ensuring all those within the institution feel welcomed.

“I am slightly disappointed about not scoring for the engagement with the wider community as our LGBT network have done some really great work in the past year with local schools.

“However, I understand that this is YUSU work and the University themselves should perhaps do more to educate local children.”

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