For a summary of the Network’s activities up to February 2015, see the slideshow below that was prepared for the ‘All out: how can we be out at work?’ event co-organised for York LGBT History Month 2015 by York St John University, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and the City of York Council.

For a more detailed overview of the Network’s activities up to mid-May 2014, see the York St John University LGBT Staff Network: An Overview article.


The LGBT Staff Network contributes to the development and maintenance of an environment at the University in which everyone feels welcome and where the needs of individuals are recognised and addressed so that they can reach their full potential, regardless of their sexual orientation and gender identity.

The Network supports the University and LGBT staff by:

  • providing a safe environment in which to raise issues experienced by LGBT staff and students;
  • identifying and highlighting specific needs of LGBT staff and students and how to meet these;
  • raising awareness of and celebrating significant events in LGBT culture and history;
  • providing links with external LGBT communities, groups and organisations;
  • promoting good relations between LGBT and non-LGBT staff;
  • providing support, advice and information on LGBT matters to all staff, exercising confidentiality as and when appropriate.

Membership is open to all staff employed by the University and/or working on campus, regardless of their sexual orientation and gender identity – straight cisgender allies are encouraged to join.

The Network’s activities are determined and overseen by an eight-member Steering Group, profiled below.

For further information, see the constitution.

Steering Group

Ryan Boothroyd (Secretary)

I’m the Secretary of the LGBT Staff Network. With the support of the Steering Group, I take a lead on coordinating the group’s activities, including liaising with a number of external organisations. I am based within the School Administration Unit as the School Administrator for the School of Health Sciences.

Marije Davidson

Marije Davidson (Equality and Diversity Adviser)

I am the Equality and Diversity Adviser. I support York St John University to move their equality, diversity and human rights agenda forward. I believe that the LGBT Staff Network enables the University to take account of the views and experiences of LGBT staff and to have a culture that is welcoming of everyone whatever their sexual orientation. I sit on the York Fairness and Equalities Board and chair the York Independent Living Network, a local disabled people-led organisation.

David Garfield

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!


Matt Harper

I’m the Support and Progression Worker and Theatre Tutor for Converge. Converge stands for everything I believe in – being able to be your true self and celebrate who you are. This paired with my background in community arts and equality and diversity has drawn me to join the steering group. I have had a very positive experience of being out in the city and within the university and would like to play my part in enabling others to experience the same.

Silviya Lewin

I am currently working within international student recruitment and over the few years at York St John University, I have undertaken various roles within the International Directorate. I have alwaysSilviya_Lewin_square been keen on being involved with the wellbeing of students in general, but particularly international students, as in terms of cultural transition, they have so much to overcome. I was involved with Equality and Diversity at York St John Students’ Union during my undergraduate studies, and this interest has transferred to my work, as I am now one of the university’s Equality Champions. LGBT issues and tje community are very close to my heart. I am proud Stonewall Ally and feel very passionate about supporting my LGBT colleagues and friends, as well as the wider LGBT community.

Helen Sauntson

Helen Sauntson

At York St John University, I am a Senior Lecturer in English Language and Linguistics. Much of my teaching and research focuses on LGBT issues, especially in relation to language and education. As a former teacher, I maintain an interest in how gender and sexuality identities are constructed through linguistic interaction in classroom settings. I am currently working on research into the role that language plays in constructing sexuality discourses in educational contexts, with a specific focus upon linguistic manifestations of homophobia in UK secondary schools. I regularly liaise with local schools over LGBT issues and sexual diversity more broadly.

Fiona Thompson

Fiona Thompson (Chair)

At York St John University I am Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Chair of the University’s LGBT Staff Network. I have been actively involved with LGBT politics since the late 70s and, whilst much has changed for the better, there is still much to be done. I have also participated in the social and cultural world of my community from ballroom dancing to singing! I am a founder member of the Leeds based choir ‘Gay Abandon’ and I set up and conduct the splinter choir ‘Sacred Wing’ which sings sacred music at All Hallows Church (an inclusive Church of England church in Leeds) at Christmas.

Jo Thompson

Jo Thompson (Head of Human Resources)

I’m the Deputy Director of Human Resources and an important part of my role at York St John is to support and move forward the equality and diversity agenda for staff. I am the University lead on our submission to the Stonewall Workplace Equalities Index and act as the Equality Champion for Human Resources. I feel that already the LGBT Staff Network is making a difference in actively demonstrating a culture of inclusivity. I’m a big believer that being authentic can create a happier place to work!

For further information, get in contact.

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