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Kingston LGBT students speak out over lack of mention in university Equality Report

By Priyanka Mogul Feb 6, 2015

KU LGBT students have raised concerns over the fact that LGBT statistics are not included in the university’s Annual Equality Report, claiming that they feel unsupported by the university.

KU’s most recent Equality Diversity and Inclusion Annual Report was published this year and included statistics on gender, ethnicity and disabilities of staff and students.

Statistics on the university’s LGBT were not included.

LGBT students have indicated that more needs to be done to make them feel comfortable at their university.

Amy Claire Bush, LGBT Officer, said: “I absolutely feel that it is necessary for the statistics of LGBT students to be listed in the university’s annual equality report. Though I feel support and provisions for LGBT identified students should be a base requirement regardless of real-figures, the exclusion of this community from such an important report speaks loudly.”

Universities across the country collect statistics on gender, ethnicity, age, and disability and the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) compiles these statistics nationwide.

Nona McDuff, Head of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion at Kingston University said HESA did not collect figures on LGBT staff or students over previous years, due to the fact that “universities do not have evidence of discrepancies in terms of outcomes for staff or students based on their sexual orientation or identity”.

However, HESA recently decided to begin collecting these statistics.

Nona McDuff said: “Two years ago HESA added a new field to their reports giving universities the opportunity to collate information on students’ sexual identity, sexual orientation, religion, and belief. Kingston was one of only a small number of universities who actively decided to take up this opportunity.”

LGBT Officer Bush said that she was happy to hear that the University is considering including the statistics in the future, but stressed that it was “not good enough”.

“It’s really strange and quite insulting that the statistics of LGBTQ+ students aren’t already included,” she said. “Sexual orientation is a protected characteristic under the law and many discrimination acts. So it’s quite telling that an equality and diversity report would fail to respect that. We should have been respected and included from the start.”

Ryan Boxall, President of the LGBT Society and former LGBT Officer for KUSU, echoed the views expressed by LGBT Officer Bush. He said: “Having these statistics available will give campaigning for LGBT issues within the university much more clout if we know how many LGBT students there are.”

Boxall also added that it would enable the university to tailor their services to LGBT students more effectively.

While he praised KU’s diversity, he said he believed that it sometimes led to smaller groups like LGBT students being neglected.

“This is why we vitally need the publication of the equality statistics for LGBT students so that we can show the university how many of us there actually are,” he said.

Concerns were also raised by one openly gay KU student, who chose to remain anonymous.

“I believe that Kingston University is majorly failing its LGBT students. The university doesn’t include LGBT students in its Equality Report despite including every other protected characteristic from the Equality Act 2010, which frankly is covertly homophobic, whether they mean it or not.”

The concerned student went on to say that they have been made to believe that the LGBT community at KU is “non-existent in the eyes of the institution”.

KU has been collecting data on sexual orientation for two years but have not had “enough statistically valid data” to include the information in the Annual Equality Report. However, McDuff anticipated that the figures would be included in next year’s report.

McDuff said: “We are very keen to have as much information about our students as possible so we can measure the impact of all our policies and take action to support any students who are being disadvantaged in any way.”

By Priyanka Mogul

Priyanka is Online Editor of the River Newspaper for Group D. She is also the Manager of International Political Forum and President of the Kingston University Journalism Society. She has previously held the position of Communications Intern with the United Nations Association, One World Media, and The British Institute of Human Rights.

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