February marks LGBT History Month in the UK, and City of Westminster College students and staff are working hard to actively support and reach out to the LGBT community across the organisation.
Each year the college runs hugely successful campaigns supporting those who identify as LGBT, both students or members of staff. Last year, CWC was placed in Stonewall’s top 400 LGBT friendly places to work in the UK, something Stonewall acknowledged as an extraordinary accomplishment for a business in its first year as part of the Diversity Champions scheme.
For last year’s Free to Be Yourself campaign, stickers were handed to members of staff to be displayed at work stations and office doors to let students (and staff) know that they personally pledge to provide a safe space for the college’s LGBT community.
In 2017 there are several videos featuring students and members of staff which will be published on the college’s social media channels. Students will be speaking on a variety of topics including the use of homophobic language, countries around the world where being LGBT is illegal or those who identify as such have restrictions placed upon them, and their own personal experiences. Staff will be speaking about LGBT history, with each choosing a pocket of time which means a lot to them personally.
Staff and volunteers from Terrence Higgins Trust visited at the start of the month to speak to nearly 150 students in the college’s theatre and will return later in February to run a series of workshops around sexual health and HIV. The Trust was set up after the death of Terry Higgins, one of the first people in the UK to die with AIDS, by his partner and friends, with a focus on raising funds and awareness of the illness. From its small beginnings it has grown to become the UK’s leading HIV and sexual health charity, and one of the largest in Europe.
Working with Stonewall, there will also be a football tournament featuring teams made up of students and staff with everyone involved wearing rainbow laces. Rainbow laces were worn by players from The Premier League, Premiership Rugby, Football Association, English Football League and Rugby Football Union to show their support for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender players and fans in a bid to stamp out homophobia in sport. “The laces have been provided to the college by Stonewall,” said Craig Hanlon-Smith, Director of Business Arts and Continuing Education. “The college also has an LGBT + Friends and Allies group, which meets monthly to support members and plan new activities.”
Those wishing to join the LGBT + Friends and Allies group can email email@example.com for more information.