For the first time ever, with our sponsorship, Bristol Pride will be held virtually. It’s an exciting time for the event. Here recent ULaw graduate Isabella MacPherson, who was head of the LGBT society at our London campuses, and Morag Duffin, Head of Access and Participation at ULaw, discuss the importance of Pride.
Isabella MacPherson, alumna:
For me, Pride is a chance to celebrate, protest and be an ally to other LGBTQIA+ people. Pride also allows me to come out and be visible to others as a bisexual person.
Pride is important because many queer people are still marginalised and face stigma, bias and discrimination. It’s important that the community can support each other and pride is an opportunity for us to do this, reflecting pride’s long history and origins as a protest. It is also a time for queer people to be proud of who they are and resist negative pressure to be ashamed of their identities while celebrating lives, relationships and culture that deviates from the perceived norm.
ULaw’s support for Pride indicates that its students can be openly queer while at the University. ULaw’s pride also shows that the legal profession can be a welcoming place for LGBTQIA+ people and provide an inclusive and supportive introduction to law.
Aside from being the safest option, in some ways online Pride could be more inclusive and accessible. By going online, Pride is open to people who might not have otherwise attended, such as those who have been put off by Pride’s drinking culture, travel costs or accessibility obstacles. By going online, Pride could host more global and diverse events, allowing people to join from areas where being LGBTQIA+ is illegal or otherwise taboo.
Institutions can make a big difference when they support diversity and smaller communities, especially as part of a long-term, intersectional plan. It goes without saying that people work and study best when they can live authentically and the action of universities can determine the success of its marginalised members.
Being LGBTQIA+ should not be a barrier to being successful in law. There are many great organisations who support aspiring and junior queer lawyers, such as LAGLA, Aspiring Solicitors, the London Bisexual Network and Interlaw Diversity Forum. Take advantage of these opportunities to learn, support and meet other queer people and if you are passionate about LGBTQIA+ issues. There are many chances for you to organise or be involved in events at ULaw.
Morag Duffin, Head of Access and Participation at ULaw
ULaw is supporting Bristol Pride because it is an important event that not only celebrates the LGBT+ community but also brings people together. This is particularly important in the current climate where people may feel more isolated. For me, it is vital that the University plays an active role in supporting diversity.
Pride is important because it doesn’t simply appreciate diversity, it celebrates it and it facilitates people to come together and support one another as a community.
The University of Law is proud of its rich and diverse student population. People come to study with us from many different communities and walks of life. Pride fits exactly within these beliefs: we welcome all students, and support them to celebrate their identity and be part of our university community.
Our participation in Pride shows that the University values and supports all our students and staff as individuals, that we celebrate their diversity and that we are committed to addressing all prejudice and discrimination.
During Bristol Pride, I’m most looking forward to the Virtual Parade. There is something unbelievably powerful about people coming together for a parade, whether that’s in person or from the comfort of their own home.
Humans are social beings and face-to-face contact is important to us but so is community. Attending online Pride not only helps us to protect our community from the pandemic but also enables to us to engage with this community virtually. Virtual engagement can be just as supportive and empowering as face-to-face contact and it shows our commitment to support one another in a challenging time.
It is vitally important that universities support diversity and smaller communities so that no-one should be denied an education because of their background or circumstances. It is the role of universities to ensure that everyone has fair access to education and equal opportunity to succeed in their chosen course and into employment. There is evidence that there are differences in student outcomes based on sexual orientation.
The Office for Students has shown that LGB and ‘other’ students are more likely to drop out of university than heterosexual students and that the percentage of ‘other’ students who receive a first or upper-second class degree at university is lower than that of LGB and heterosexual students. Unfortunately, no research has been carried out on student outcomes by gender identity yet but the fact that the Office for Students is committed to looking into differential outcomes by student group is promising. This shows that universities have a lot to learn about how the lived experiences of students can affect student outcomes and about how they can best support all students to achieve.
For anyone from the LGBTQIA+ community considering a course at ULaw, I would advise them to get in touch with us, ask us questions and attend a virtual open day. At ULaw we are committed to supporting all students from all backgrounds to achieve in their courses. Our Welfare Service is there to provide advice, guidance and to support students during their time studying with us on a variety of practical, personal and/or social issues or concerns. We also offer confidential counselling with trained professionals. In addition, our Student Association is committed to supporting all students and we have a dedicated LBGT+ Liberation Officer.
Join ULaw at Bristol Pride Online 2020 discussing LGBT+ in Law - 9th September 5-6 pm
Ensuring LGBT+ rights are championed effectively in the UK
We will be welcoming a panel of professionals from across the legal sector to talk about LGBT+ rights and representation in law, trans inclusivity in the workplace, LGBTQ+ family rights and more.
The panel includes: Rachel Reese, Founder of Global Butterflies trans and non-binary inclusion training company that comprises of trans only staff. Vice Chair of the Law Society’s LGBT Lawyers Division, trustee for the GiveOut charity and judge for OUTvertising awards.
Helen Randall, Partner and Head of Diversity& Inclusion at Trowers & Hamlin. Helen has been appointed to the Law Society LGBT Lawyers Division committee and is the Chair of Stonewall Housing.
Scott Halliday, Associate Family Law solicitor for Irwin Mitchell, specialising in advising LGBT+ families from across the country and internationally and human rights law
Our panel will share their experiences and discuss the challenges facing the LGBT+ community, and how the legal sector advise, represent and support the community.