Welcoming diversity among students

UniQ president Adam Rance (23) and Otago University Students' Association queer support co-ordinator Hahna Briggs are running a series of events for diversity week. Photo by Peter McIntosh.
UniQ president Adam Rance (23) and Otago University Students' Association queer support co-ordinator Hahna Briggs are running a series of events for diversity week. Photo by Peter McIntosh.
Making students of all sexual orientations and gender identities feel welcome is the aim of Otago University Students' Association's diversity week.

OUSA queer support co-ordinator Hahna Briggs said a range of events was being held this week, including ''rainbow'' self-defence classes, a tea party and a dance workshop.

Ms Briggs said it was important to make LGBT students feel welcome, as at times they could feel isolated on campus.

''They really need to find other people who may have had similar experiences to them.''

She said there had been a lot of progress in the way LGBT people were treated in New Zealand and on campus, but there was still room for improvement.

This was shown in a recent survey of University of Otago students, which found LGBT students experienced higher rates of harassment on campus and some students were afraid to disclose aspects of their identity for fear of discrimination.

''So there are still barriers to people being really open about who they are.''

UniQ president Adam Rance agreed progress needed to be made and said society needed to move beyond just tolerating people with different sexual orientations and gender identities.

''As soon as you really start to challenge people's ideas that's when people get defensive,'' he said.

vaughan.elder@odt.co.nz

Comments

Good luck with that, we all need to feel part of a supportive community that encourages long term caring friendships & cooperative values together with good physical and emotional health. For gay men there is a particularly urgent need to counter the ongoing descent into secretive web based sexual predation and dehumanised sexual obsession. 30 years after same sex law reform the worst source of oppression may come from within the individual - young gay men today are often as damaged as the older ones who have failed to explore, accept and sensibly manage their own desires & above all, to embrace honesty and visibility. Fearful of asserting their individuality, too many still seek to conform to a false image that measures up to the expectations of homophobic relatives and poorly chosen friends, resulting in a lifetime of self loathing, deceit, frustration and damaging behaviour. Instead of being a colour that enriches the whole of our lives sexuality is compartmentalised into a "dirty" hidden mental room, where guilt and fear of discovery may lead to the worst possible outcomes for the individual, his family and friends, or at least mean a life less than half lived.

 

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