Keele University LGB&T History Month 2012Exploring good relations and the interface between religion and belief and sexual orientation in HEIs Neil Baker – Senior policy adviser
Background: LGB&T and Religion and Belief LGB&T ECU 2009 = Research – Experiences of LGB&T staff and students ECU 2010 = Advancing LGB equality toolkit for HEIs = Trans staff and students in higher education toolkit = Info card on supporting international LGB students = Info card on accommodation services for LGB students ECU 2011 = Exploration and fact finding work on the interface between religion and belief and sexual orientation (Salford University, Cambridge University, De Montfort University, Cardiff University, University of Strathclyde) External = Stonewall workplace index = Stonewall university guide = NUS guidance on good relations = NUS hate crime report = Managing the interface: sexual orientation and faith Religion and Belief 2005 / 07 Promoting good campus relations: dealing with hate crime and intolerance ECU 2011 = Research – Religion and belief the experiences of staff and students = Guidance – Religious observance in higher education = Exploration and fact finding work on the interface between religion and belief and sexual orientation (Salford University, Cambridge University, De Montfort University, Cardiff University, University of Strathclyde) External = NUS guidance on good relations = NUS hate crime report = Managing the interface: sexual orientation and faith
Exploring the interface: religion and belief and sexual orientation Research findings - ECU = Tensions between religion and belief and sexual orientation were identified in both research on experiences of religion and belief (2011) and research on experiences of LGB&T staff and students (2009). “ In my first year, the Christian union was barred from being part of the students union because it refused to remove opposition to homosexuality and sex before marriage from its statement of beliefs” (Focus group response- Religion and belief in higher education: the experience of staff and students) “The year I started, there was a three-line whip about attending equality training... And, well, there were some very inappropriate comments made by [people of religion and belief]... There’s an evangelical Christian presence on campus...which is very strong..its one of the things that probably worries me most” (Staff focus group- The experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans staff and students in higher education) Managing the interface: religion and belief and sexual orientation in further and higher education – The Forum 2010) = University halls of residence were found to be a site of significant tensions betweens learners of different sexual orientations and religions or beliefs
Exploring the interface: religion and belief and sexual orientation = Where tensions or conflicts were experienced or identified in a workplace, the survey results suggested that there was no clear evidence of structured approaches to resolving them. = College and university authorities tended to avoid intervention when there were potential or actual tensions between sexual orientation equality and equality on the grounds of religion and belief. = College and university based interfaith chaplaincies were well placed to challenge religiously driven homophobia with some chaplains seeing indentifying, challenging and taking a lead in opposing religiously motivated homophobia as a key priority for their chaplaincies, however there was not always a shared perspective with chaplaincy teams. Fact finding work – ECU 2011 = Equality characteristics often seen in separation rather than within a holistic equality approach. = Good relations not always embed into equality strategies and delivery. = Some good examples of work between staff forums, however work between student societies was limited. = Lack of understanding in how good relations work could be developed across protected characteristics. = Challenging inappropriate behaviour and proactive resolution of problems. = Using events to explore joint experience of discrimination, good examples within some staff networks, limited with student societies. = Challenging assumptions and stereotyping
developing good relations between protected characteristics What is good relations? Good relations in the context of higher education incorporates the ability of HEI’s and colleges to develop and maintain positive relationships on campus between those who carry a protected characteristic in UK law, and those who do not. Good relations work seeks to promote respect, equity and trust, and embrace diversity in all its forms. The Equality Act 2010 Eliminate discrimination, harassment, victimisation and any other conduct that is prohibited by or under this Act e.g. remove or minimise disadvantages suffered by people due to their protected characteristics Advance equality of opportunity between persons who share a relevant protected characteristic and persons who do not share it; e.g. meet the needs of people with protected characteristics. Encourage people with protected characteristics to participate in public life or in other activities where their participation is low. Foster good relations between persons who share a relevant protected characteristic and persons who do not share it. e.g. tackle prejudice and promote understanding between people from different groups.
Good relations in practice = Bringing people together to explore experience, challenge assumptions and stereotypes and develop shared goals in equality. = Enabling debate and discussion in safe spaces around difference and shared experience = Sharing history of equality and human rights through events, forums and other social gatherings = Tackling assumptions, stereotypes and negative behaviour which enforces inequality between characteristics = Embedding good relations into policy and strategy development = Understanding freedom of speech and the interface with equality and diversity
Reflective Questions • Do staff forums and networks for differing protected characteristics come together to work on joint equality projects? • How do student groups and societies interact, enabling exploration of difference, assumptions and perceptions? • Does ‘good relations’ form a part of organisational policies and strategies for staff and students? • Do employees and students know what is meant by ‘good relations’? • How will the organisation demonstrate its commitment to fostering good relations in the public sector equality duty? • How does equality training reflect good relations, assumptions, perceptions and stereotyping between and within protected characteristics? • How is conflict and potential conflict resolved among groups? • Does the organisation work collectively with its local community in developing good relations both on and outside of the organisational structure and site.
Contact Neil Baker Senior policy adviser 020 7438 1022 email@example.com www.ecu.ac.uk