SU launch brand new campaign to make Cambridge a more accepting place for LGBT+ students

‘Students are suffering due to the oversight or neglect of LGBT+ issues’

To mark LGBT+ History Month, the Student Union’s LGBT+ campaign have launched a new campaign to improve support available to LGBT+ students at Cambridge.

The Care+ campaign focuses on taking action at the college-level, with a system of student and staff college representatives working together to “push for changes to policies and cultures” to “better support LGBT+ people and other marginalised groups.”

The campaign describes their policies as being “evidence-based”, “targeted” and “easy to take.” Recommendations are based on “the needs of the LGBT+ community, alongside marginalised people more generally” and have been created in collaboration with other organisations such as [email protected]

Measures advised by the campaign include providing tutor welfare training, not policing spaces based on a person’s gender appearance and prioritising the safety of LGBT+ students within accommodation policies:

A list of demands that colleges can take according to the Care+ campaign.

The campaign has been introduced following three surveys over the past year providing evidence that “LGBTQ+ people’s specific needs and vulnerabilities were not being taken into consideration” and left LGBT+ Cambridge students feeling “unrepresented” and “unable to access support.”

The most recent of these was in November 2020, seeking to establish how the university’s and colleges’ responses to Covid-19 were affecting LGBT+ students in Cambridge. The survey sought to uncover how LGBT+ students felt about their households and the extent to which students felt supported by different bodies.

A graph that gauges how students feel certain component parts of the university are supportive of welfare.

Findings from the surveys point to issues faced by LGBT+ students in Cambridge, such as being “forced to live in places they did not feel safe due to their genders and sexualities” and have had to “risk outing themselves to staff they did not trust”.

The campaign alleges that “students are suffering due to the oversight or neglect of LGBT+ issues” and demands those in positions of authority take steps to prove that they “care about us, through actions as well as words.”

The Care+ campaign also focuses on the unique experiences of different identities within the LGBT+ community. The surveys found that “trans, non-binary, BME and disabled people were disproportionately affected at almost every point.”

These students are significantly more likely to feel unsafe at university and are also more likely to say their sexuality and gender identity was a reason that they felt “uncomfortable accessing welfare.”

The report also places intersectionality at the heart of its demands, finding that students from other marginalised backgrounds were also disproportionately affected and shaping its demands to overcome these.

The survey found evidence that “university and college policies disproportionately made disabled participants feel unsafe.”

The report also states that “Class Act participants were much more likely than the norm to report lack of support and financial situation as reasons for feeling unsafe.”

BME respondents only made up nine of the 74 respondents to the survey, so their results were more likely to skew towards extremes. There was a significant correlation between “identifying as BME reporting a negative impact of college regulations on mental health.”

The Care+ campaign has worked these findings into their policy demands, ensuring that the campaign is focused on providing support to LGBT+ students in the areas where it is most needed.  The campaign affirms that “LGBT+ people are a vital part of Cambridge’s communities, cultures, and successes” and that the university and its colleges “must make a commitment to respecting the needs and autonomy of the people that actually make up these institutions.

Together, we can create a community which prioritises caring for one another.”

Feature Image Credit: Riana Patel with screenshots from the Care+ Campaign

Image Credits: Care+ Campaign 

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