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Proudly proactive: celebrating and supporting LGBT+ students in Scotland

Hazel Marzetti
2017 Teaching in Higher Education  
Biography: Hazel Marzetti is a researcher at the University of Edinburgh, where she works on a range of education projects. Her interests include queer community development and education, LGBT+ spaces and groups, UK higher education, queer herstory, queer intersectional feminist research methods, creative research methods, mental health and youth work. Hazel uses she/her pronouns. Abstract. The absence of data regarding UK university students' sexualities and trans identities has, for too
more » ... s has, for too long, rendered lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans (LGBT+) student communities invisible. This interview-based study aims to explore the experiences of LGBT+ students at a Scottish university, beginning to address this gap in research. This study argues that despite perceptions from staff and prospective students that universities are welcoming to LGBT+ students, and attempts from institutions to comply with equalities legislation, the reality is homophobia, biphobia, transphobia, and queer phobia creeps into students' lives both on and off campus. This has therefore necessitated the student-led provision of exclusively LGBT+ 'safe spaces' to allow LGBT+ students to explore and express their identities fearlessly. In order to challenge the current campus climate, this paper thus argues that a radical shift is required in order to transform institutions to successfully support and celebrate LGBT+ campus communities, allowing universities to truly call themselves 'proudly proactive'. Introduction: Queer Invisibility. The systematic absence of investigation into and data on the experiences of LGBT+ 1 students studying at universities in the UK has, for too long, been left unchallenged. Until 2015 students at UK universities did not have the option to declare their sexualities or trans identities through the University College Admission Services' (UCAS) application form (UCAS 2015). As a result identifying LGBT+ students at UK universities was comparatively more difficult than identifying students with other characteristics protected under the Equality Act 2010, such as disabled, women, and 1 It is acknowledged that the language used in this paper will not be immediately clear to all, therefore a glossary of terms has been included in Appendix 1 to clarify.
doi:10.1080/13562517.2017.1414788 fatcat:vt3gc6om2vhqvam6x6st7lbia4