The Australian LGBTI University Guide was designed to give students information about how Universities cater for diversity of sexual orientation, gender identity and for those with intersex status.
For so many students, university is a time of self-discovery, of newfound freedom, and a step on the road to independence. It is also a chance for them to extend themselves academically, and an opportunity to access first-rate academics and learning materials.
It is vital that these opportunities are extended to all students, including those who may be lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans or intersex (LGBTI). Many LGBTI people have a very positive experience at university. Some, however, continue to experience homophobia and transphobia in ways that inhibit their academic potential and growth as individuals.
We have produced this guide so that prospective LGBTI students are able to have a sense of which learning environments may support their needs best. This guide is also for universities, to give them an understanding of the ways in which they are currently catering well for LGBTI students, and also those areas where improvement would be welcome.
We hope it serves as recognition for those universities who have taken great strides in creating an inclusive learning environment, as well as a wake-up call for those universities who could do better.
Dr Justin Koonin, Convenor, GLRL
For more than 30 years the Star Observer has been the trusted, independent journal of record for Australia’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex communities.
In fact, if we were a student entering university, we’d be somewhat mature.
But the attitudes that are formed within the quadrangles and cloisters, the lecture theatres and the halls of residence of our centres of learning are critical to how LGBTI Australians are governed and how we are treated in our everyday lives.
The pages of our magazine and website are all too often littered with divisive remarks about our community from highly educated people who, you would think, would know better.
All too often it is not the man or the woman on the street who is against sensible progress on issues such as same-sex marriage but the men and women in the corridors of power; the same people who at one time strode the tree-lined paths of campuses from Hobart to Broome. The straight A students; the proud graduates, even the odd Rhodes Scholar.
So, in the great tradition of investigative reporting, it makes sense to examine what our universities are doing to publicly show they will support our LGBTI people.
Pleasingly, many of our institutions are doing a commendable job and are embracing our community. Sadly, some seem wilfully ignorant of our presence. And what is abundantly clear is that there is still work to do with no university meeting every metric.
The Australian LGBTI University Guide is just a snapshot of a period of time. By the time you read this any given university may have gone up a notch. We don’t pretend it is the final word.
But it’s by initiatives like this that we can do our bit to help LGBTI students. And while the Star Observer might be a mature student, most of the LGBTI people heading onto campus are young – and many will be nervous about how they will be received.
We should be able to get to a position where campus is a place where LGBTI students can always assume they will be respected, listened to and supported.