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University College London launches first ever LGBTQ+ action plan

The new initiative comes after UCL left Stonewall last year

Last week, UCL unveiled its inaugural LGBTQ+ action plan that aims to create a safe and welcoming environment for LGBTQ+ students at UCL.

The initiative, which hopes to help “LGBTQ+ students feel safe, valued and able to thrive at UCL”, features wide-ranging commitments. These include expanding careers resources and support for finding LGBTQ+ friendly workplaces, providing institutional training to UCL staff to better support queer students, streamlining procedures to change names, titles and genders of students seamlessly and gathering more data on the experiences of LGBTQ+ students at UCL. 

This plan comes after UCL’s momentous decision to leave the Stonewall’s Diversity Champions Programme in December 2021, becoming the first UK university to do so. At the same time, the institution had committed to “re-doubling” its work around “LGBTQ+ equality and inclusion”, by establishing an LGBTQ+ Implementation Group (LEIG) to develop a plan for such efforts going forward. 

The Implementation Group consisted of several staff members alongside Seyi Osibamowo,  the UCL Students’ Union Equity Officer last year, Ahmad Ismail, the SU Inclusion Officer, and Jayne Flowers, Inclusion Coordinator, who represented the student voice during group meetings.

LEIG co-chair and UCL’s Envoy for LGBTQ+ Equality, Noël Caliste, expressed the importance of student involvement in the development process of the action plan.

She said: “It was important to have hands-on involvement from the very beginning to ensure this framework met the needs of UCL’s LGBTQ+ community and was something they deserved.

“By working on LEIG’s terms of reference, developing an initiatives fund, and ensuring the group’s membership was relevant and representative, I’ve had the privilege of seeing this robust action plan come to fruition. It has been a challenging process; however, now that LEIG has achieved its purpose, the real work begins.” 

The plan is also responsible for the development and monitoring of the Gender Expression Fund, which was launched by the UCLSU in January of this year, to provide financial assistance to trans students to assist them with their gender presentation.

For students wanting to get involved in this initiative, UCL has launched a LEIG fund wherein students can apply for a grant of up to £5,000 for facilitating LGBTQ+ inclusion activities or research projects at UCL. The next round of applications will open in January 2024.

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