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Out&Proud Research Event. What We Learnt And How We Can All Be Better Allies

By skye.aitken, on 1 November 2019

An event stage with a screen set up

Written by Joe O’Brien, Marketing Communications Assistant, UCL Careers.

On Friday 11th October, UCL Careers ventured east to Clifford Chance’s Canary Wharf office. We were attending a special panel event devised to launch the Out&Proud research from UK Trendence Research, a leading student-focused research firm. Poignantly released 50 years after the Stonewall riots, the research was 9 months in the making and aimed to delve deep into the experiences of LGBT+ students and graduates in higher education. The research saw 4100 young people take part from 122 universities across the UK, with 91% aged 18-29. Of respondents, 19% were graduates now in employment.

The research itself is fascinating and we won’t attempt to fit all of its findings into one blog post so what we’d recommend is heading over to the UK Trendence Research website and requesting access to the report. We promise it is a truly valuable report which sadly includes some shocking and eye-opening statistics. From a career standpoint, the report highlighted how those who are open about their sexuality in the workplace are 12% more likely to report an improvement in wellbeing. Here are some of the more damning findings from the report:

  • 1 in 3 LGBT+ students have experienced hate crime and/or sexual assault
  • LGBT+ students 38% more likely to report depression
  • 6% more likely to report a decline in wellbeing when starting university

We were treated to two fantastic panels; firstly, a panel made up of allies from organisations who sponsored the research and secondly, from a selection of LGBT+ figures from a broad range of careers and experiences. Allyship – providing support as an ally even if you do not identify as LGBT+, was a recurring theme throughout the day, with a number of speakers emphasising that the fight for equality and respect for LGBT+ people is a responsibility that shouldn’t rest solely on their shoulders.

Four panelists sitting on stage with a screen behind them

Tips for being an ally:

  • Tanya Compas, an award-winning youth worker and LGBT+ Case Worker, explained how even something as simple as including your pronouns in your email signature can help to create an inclusive environment.
  • Tiernan Brady, Global Head of Inclusion for Clifford Chance, spoke about how progress is not linear and by no means inevitable. We can’t assume it’s only the older generations who discriminate against LGBT+ individuals, in fact recent Galop research into attitudes in our society has shown that the age group most likely to think of LGBT+ people as “immoral” are aged 18-24. He also implored allies to remain vocal supporters and not to assume the fight is over. As Tiernan put it, “if we take our foot off the gas, we stop and then we lose the progress we have fought for”.

Another common theme throughout the day was the importance of intersectionality. Zee, a final year undergraduate student from School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), who was on the second panel explained how “what’s diverse for a gay white man is not diverse for a black trans woman.” There are a number of examples in the Out&Proud research which hone in on this, with an LGBT+ Muslim student explaining how coming from a heteronormative background, steeped in religion and culture, leaves them living a double life. For this reason, it’s important to remember the diverse backgrounds and added difficulties that can arise from this conflict.

Rhammel Afflick, Director of Communications for Pride in London, told us his coming out story – writing an article for Huffington Post in which he came out publicly, what Rhammel found most surprising wasn’t that he received homophobic abuse, he unfortunately expected that. It was the fact he received racist abuse despite the article focusing solely on his sexual identity as a bisexual man. This is a great example of the importance intersectionality has on LGBT+ issues.

Our 3 actions for you to take from this post:

  1. Read the Out&Proud research and be aware of what your fellow students are going through and struggling with.
  2. Engage with the UCL LGBT+ Student’s Network. It’s a great way to make friends, develop new skills, and it looks great on your CV to be involved in any engaging and proactive society.
  3. Try to reflect and constantly question how inclusive and supportive you are being as a student, colleague, family member, or friend. Like Tiernan said, progress is not inevitable and it takes all of us to make sure we keep moving.


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