An international perspective

The tremendous development of LGBT activities and the raising of its profile at York St John University in the past year are really amazing developments. The fact that Stonewall has just recognised this by announcing that the university is one of only six institutions in Britain to achieve top marks in its survey, serves to emphasise this. From the standpoint of YSJ International and the international students at York St John these are very welcome developments. Many of our international students come from cultures where it can be more than just problematic to be LGB or T, it can also be dangerous, even life threatening. The best thing that we can do for them as a university is to demonstrate that the LGBT community is just another part of this society, no better, no worse than any other group, with no special privileges, but most importantly, the accepted right to be recognised and acknowledged as valid. So, the raising of the LGBT profile, being seen to be proud of our struggles, achievements and history, will help to give international students, who perhaps have never felt comfortable in their own society with gender, gender identity or sexuality issues, the confidence to assert the ways they feel about themselves. Whilst some of these students may still not feel confident enough to “come out” to others, and we must respect that in anyone, the fact that LGBT activities are going on in the university, and the visibility of symbols, such as staff wearing rainbow lanyards around the campus, provide an atmosphere of normality which hopefully will move them along the road to recognising and accepting their own place in the LGBT community.

David Garfield

I am the International Academic Coordinator for York St John University. I am committed to making York St John a place where all students and staff, but particularly international students who often come from cultures which are not tolerant of differences, feel that they are in a place which is inclusive and makes them comfortable to be themselves. I have long been active with Gay Rights having marched in early Gay Rights Parades when living in the USA in the 70s, and seen the landscape for LGBT people change enormously for the better. However, there's still a long way to go before we can say that the battle is won!

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4 Responses

  1. One of my colleagues asked me after reading the article I had written: how do we deal with our own international students who come here with deeply homophobic views, which in their own cultures would be mainstream opinions. Of course, we address these views directly from the perspective of the law of the land and the inclusiveness of our society. However, it is an issue in the International classroom.

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