When people from underrepresented diversity groups feel that they are in a safe environment and see themselves reflected in what they learn, they are more likely to feel welcome and included as a member of the university community. This makes them more likely to engage with their learning or work and perform at their best.

Macquarie’s LGBTIQ+ Ally Network are active in supporting staff and students to reach their learning and career goals at the university in a safe and inclusive community. The Ally Network suggest that even small gestures towards LGBTIQ+ inclusion can have an enormous impact on a person, helping to make their identity feel accepted, especially for young students at a time in their life where they may be questioning their sexuality or gender identity.

Diversity is strength. Difference is a teacher.
Fear difference and you learn nothing.

Hannah Gadsby

poster with various stats about LGBTQI+ community

Here are a few simple actions that teaching staff can take to have a big impact on LGBTIQ+ inclusion at the university…

  1. Embedding diverse examples in your coursework & resources

It’s important to remember that a little can go a long way. An inclusive curriculum does not need to be a total reinvention or creation of a new scheme of work, but rather tweaking current lessons and looking out for opportunities where relevant.

Some ideas include:

  • Find ways to embed language and examples that include LGBTIQ+ people and themes.
  • Reference the work of Academics from diverse backgrounds and identities.
  • This resource from Stonewall may be useful to give you some more ideas.

Crucially, a curriculum that acknowledges and celebrates diversity and inclusion of all kinds – not only LGBTIQ+ people, but other groups often overlooked by curriculums including women, minority ethnic, and people with disability – will make it easier for students to understand the importance of diversity and inclusion and help to make those who are underrepresented feel that they belong.

  1. Make an upfront statement about behaviour expectations

A really easy way to set inclusive standards right from the get go that many Allies have found useful is to include a slide on diversity and inclusion in your introduction at the beginning of semester, and to also include a statement in your course notes. This immediately lets students know what is expected of them in terms of their behaviour and helps those from underrepresented groups to know that they are in a safe and supportive environment. Examples of slides and diversity statements can be found on the Sexual and Gender Diversity page.

  1. Know where to send people for extra support

There may be times when a student or colleague turns to you for support or advice if they are experiencing discrimination. This can be intimidating if you’re not sure how to help or what you should say. The key is to remember that there are many organisations out there who are experts in caring for people from diversity groups and if you know who they are you can refer someone to them for the support they need.

  • Campus Wellbeing is Macquarie’s on-site service for students who may require counselling, welfare services and disability services. They can be found at 16 Wallys Walk, level 2. Or phone (02) 98507497
  • HR managers are here to support staff & managers and to provide guidance and support in times of need. You can find your HR representative on the Staff portal.
  • Benestar are Macquarie’s Employee Assistance Program provider, who offer confidential counselling and support services to all Macquarie Staff and their immediate families. Benestar staff have received training on issues faced by people in the LGBTIQ+ communities.
  • The Queer Space is a service provided by Macquarie University for all staff and students who identify as LGBTIQ+ as well as their allies. It is designed to foster a sense of community as well as facilitate a space for discussion and personal development. It is a safe space on campus for all of its users to feel welcome, safe and comfortable. The Queer Space is located on level 3, 18 Wally’s Walk (MAZE).
  • If you’re ever unsure where to find help you can always contact the Workplace Diversity and Inclusion team for matters relating to staff, and the Student Diversity and Inclusion team for all student matters.
  1. Wherever possible, challenge non-inclusive behaviour

This is often one of the most challenging parts of being an agent of positive change, and can be intimidating and daunting. However there are many ways you can challenge inappropriate or discriminatory behaviour in your role.

  • Call out derogatory language or discriminatory behaviour in the class room when it happens.
  • Support the person or persons who are affected by the behaviour.
  • Have a conversation with the individual and explain why their behaviour or language was inappropriate or how it can impact others.

Remember that people are entitled to their own beliefs but they are not entitled to intimidate or exclude others at Macquarie. To learn more about these techniques and to learn how to put them in to practice, come along to Ally training.

  1. Become an Ally

The Macquarie University Ally Network exists as a visible support network on campus for people who identify as LGBTIQ+, that challenges prejudice and advocates for equality and inclusion in all facets of campus life.

allies running a bake stall

Ally training provides participants with an overall understanding of why LGBTIQ+ inclusion is important to the Macquarie University community and explores challenges often faced by people who identify as LGBTIQ+ and the impact of Homophobia, Transphobia and prejudice. Participants who complete the training will be able to join the Macquarie Ally Network if they so wish. Check the Ally Network page for upcoming training times and to register.

Wear It Purple day is coming up at the end of August and the Ally Network will be partnering with the Queer Collective to hold a lunch time event and to distribute resources for all student-facing staff so that they can show their support for LGBTIQ+ students. Watch out for notices about this event.

sign that says "proud to be ally"

Posted by Lauren Dillon

Lauren is the Workplace Diversity & Inclusion Coordinator at MQ, and the Coordinator of the MQ LGBTIQ+ Ally Network.

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