25 February 2021
“Coleg Gwent is the only place I have been accepted for the way I am immediately. I’m transgender, and the college made sure that I was always doing ok and gendered me correctly everywhere I go.” – Avery, Art and Design alumni 2019.
We pride ourselves on being a friendly, welcoming and inclusive college where everyone can be themselves without fear of judgement. So, in 2020, we took our first steps towards shaping a new Equality and Diversity strategy. We developed an annual calendar of activities to demonstrate our commitment to equality, diversity, acceptance and inclusion.
To kick off the events, we’re celebrating LGBTQ+ History Month with a range of activities throughout February. All learners and staff are invited to show their support and get involved. So, here’s a breakdown of all the positive activities and inclusive events taking place throughout the month:
We all have to play our part in supporting LGBTQ+ inclusive education. So, we began the month with staff training from Stonewall, who champion inclusive education for all. The session was an opportunity for staff to reflect on their LGBTQ+ inclusion work, whether they’re tutors or support staff. They were given a chance to learn ways to step up as an active ally to the LGBTQ+ community, helping to promote inclusion and diversity on campus.
Throughout the month, we encouraged learners and staff to show their support for LGBTQ+ classmates and colleagues by sending us a selfie for our rainbow wall of support. We united by wearing a rainbow with pride, and received lots of fun and colourful selfies from people all across the college showing their support. Check out our rainbow flag montage of support!
Learning remotely from home is a challenge, especially when it comes to making new friends and socialising with your classmates at college. So, to reduce feelings of isolation and to provide support our LGBTQ+ learners, we’ve created Teams and Yammer groups. Peer support is important for our learners’ wellbeing, and the groups give our LGBTQ+ learners a safe space to share their experiences with each other.
Following the success of last year’s Inset-Day training, we’ve engaged with Milk Presents again to deliver gender awareness training for staff in February. The training promotes an understanding of positive gender inclusion within our college, exploring terminology and legislation. The session also covers top-tips and general awareness around gender identities, helping to make Coleg Gwent more inclusive for learners and staff alike.
As part of our LGBTQ+ History Month activities, we’re delighted that airline and ex-RAF Royal Squadron Pilot, Matt Lindley, joined us as our guest speaker. During the session, he shared his story of being one of the first openly gay pilots in the armed forces – a story of self-motivation, determination and drive which led to his dream of joining the RAF being fulfilled. He shared an inspiring story of how the RAF adapted its culture from one of hostility towards gay personnel to one of acceptance and support.
As part of our ongoing pledge to be a diverse and inclusive college, we’ve identified learners and staff as Diversity Champions. They’ll wear our Diversity Charter badges with pride, as a sign of their allyship to the LGBTQ+ community. So, any LGBTQ+ staff or learners will easily be able to recognise our Diversity Champions on campus and know that they’re approachable and available for support.
On 24th February, LGBTQ+ staff got together for a virtual coffee morning. Following the success of last year’s informal coffee morning in support of the LGBTQ+ community at Coleg Gwent, we were keen to support a safe space for LGBTQ+ staff to meet and chat about anything and everything, even during lockdown.
To encourage learners and staff to continue to develop their knowledge and understanding, we curated a selection of digital resources that learners and staff can access via the library dashboard These resources were free to access throughout the month and helped our learners and staff to support and become allies for the LGBTQ+ community by developing their own understanding.
And finally, to continue to show our support for the LGBTQ+ community at Coleg Gwent, staff changed their Microsoft Teams backgrounds to rainbow colours and flags during meetings. Not only did this brighten up our virtual meetings, but it also helped to raise awareness and promote inclusion at the college too.
All of these activities are helping us strive towards being a college where everyone feels safe and respected for who they are and we’re proud to be supporting our LGBTQ+ community. There are plenty more educational resources, talks, webinars and information available on the LGBTQ+ History Month website, and you can find out more about inclusion and diversity at Coleg Gwent here.