Emma Kwaya-James, our Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion Manager, considers LGBT+ History Month to be a time for celebration and remembrance.
Emma speaks about the importance of awareness month and the work of the University to support our LGBTQ+ staff and students:
LGBTQ+ month is important for me as a time for celebration and remembrance. We celebrate the wonderful, intersectional diversity of our LGBTQ+ community. We also remember those who have lost their lives and of the ongoing global, national, and local struggle, persecution and oppression faced by members of our LGBTQ+ community and of our own loss as a family.
Throughout the month we think of the untimely and unanswered death of Joël Gustave Nana Ngongang, frequently known as Joel Nana. Joel died in 2015 while visiting the place he referred to as home, Cameroon in West Africa. Joel was a proud, openly gay man who was not only a leading African LGBTQ+ human rights advocate and HIV/AIDS activist, but most importantly to us, he was a brother, uncle, partner, confidante, and father.
LGBTQ+ activity has been at the heart of our university equality, diversity, and inclusion agenda. USW was ranked 24th on the Stonewall Index in 2020 and top Trans Employer in the same year. Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, we didn't submit to the index in 2021.
The University is currently undertaking work to further develop its Trans Guidance for colleagues and Name Change Policy for its students. Alongside this, it hopes to invest in ongoing Trans awareness-raising sessions for both colleagues and students. As part of our commitment to developing a pan University Wellbeing Plan, we plan to develop and pilot a confidential discrimination reporting system. It will form part of our zero-tolerance to bullying, harassment and discrimination.