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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

Phill Gray (Chair, he/him)

My role here at York St John University is to manage the international aspects of the university as Director of International. I was elected to the role of Chair of the staff LGBT Network in 2018 and coordinate our input into events across the city such as York Pride. I absolutely believe in bringing your whole, authentic self to work, and as an openly gay man, I want to act a positive role model to colleagues across the university. As Chair, I work closely with other members of the Steering Group to represent LGBT Staff interests up to the university Executive Board.

Marije Davidson (Equality and Diversity Adviser, she/her)

I support York St John University to move their equality, diversity and human rights agenda forward. I led on the trans-inclusive framework which was a runner-up in 2018 The Guardian student experience award. I believe that the LGBT+ Staff Network enables the University to take account of the views, experiences and expertise of LGBT+ staff and to have a culture that is welcoming of everyone whatever their sexual orientation and gender identity. 

Dr Pierre-Philippe Dechant (he/him)

Pierre-Philippe Dechant head and shoulders
I am the YSJ lead for the Mathematical Sciences, and one of the academic leads for STEM. I am very passionate about equality, diversity and inclusion, and about making higher education accessible. Previously I have been involved in Athena SWAN initiatives, as well as being a panellist for the Equality Challenge Unit for the Athena SWAN and Race Equality Charters. Having recently joined YSJ and experienced it as incredibly welcoming and inclusive, I am now delighted to join the YSJ LGBT Staff Network Steering Group to help continue this very important work.

David Garfield (he/him)

I am the International Programmes Manager 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 80s 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!

Helen Sauntson

Professor Helen Sauntson (she/her)

At York St John University, I am a Professor of 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 have, for example, conducted 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.

Jo Thompson

Jo Thompson (Head of Human Resources, she/her)

I’m Head 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 Equality 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!

Dr Amanda Wilcox (University Secretary)Amanda Wilcox Face

As University Secretary I represent the Executive Board and their commitment to supporting LGBT+ staff at York St John University. As a university rooted in its community we are driven by our commitment to fairness and advancing social justice. We strive to provide an inclusive environment for all and nurture a strong sense of belonging within our community. People matter to us. That’s why, as an LGBT+ ally, I am proud to be a member of the LGBT staff network at York St John University.

Kalen Reid (LGBTQ+ Liberation Officer, they/them)

I am the YSJSU LGBTQ+ Liberation Officer as well as the chair of YSJ’s LGBTQ+ Society. I am passionate about LGBTQ+ issues and rights. As a Non-binary POC (person of colour) I focus a lot on intersectionality with equality and diversity. I study Children,Young People and Families with British Sign Language at the university and I often research and analyse LGBTQ+ topics as part of my course. My main aim is to support and encourage YSJ to continue to be an inclusive environment for its LGBTQ+ students and staff. I am incredibly honoured to be part of the Steering Group for the LGBT Staff Network.

Emily Segaran (Staff Network Secretay, she/her)

As International Student Support Assistant, my job is to make sure that all our students feel welcome and comfortable at York St John, and can share and celebrate their diversity. I am proud to work for a university with a strong sense of community and a commitment to equality and diversity. I look forward to supporting colleagues from across the university in working towards a campus which is inclusive, accessible and welcoming for all.

For further information, email us.