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Pride at The University of Law: An interview with LGBTQ+ Equalities Officer Francesca Mills

Francesca Mills is not just studying the LLM Legal Practice (SQE1 + SQE2) at our Leeds campus, but she’s also our LGBTQ+ equalities officer.

By Cara Fielder. Published 25 June 2024.

I was drawn to the role of LGBTQ+ equalities officer because I wanted to make a difference. The idea of being an equality officer always interested me, but I didn't have the confidence to become one until I started my postgraduate degree at The University of Law. I wanted to offer a voice to the LGBTQIA+ community of students and implement my own ideas. Becoming an equalities officer was a chance for me to make sustainable, long-term change and effectively platform student voices and opinions.

The responsibility I hold as the LGBT officer is incredibly important to me and I always try to make sure that I am doing everything I can to support the LGBTQIA+ community at University. I am honoured to be nominated for this role and to share my experiences of queerness and continuously promote both acceptance and celebration.

I have been a Leeds student for 4 years and the perspective I have gained as a student has been invaluable for this role. I have insight into what students actually want from their universities and what activities they are more likely to engage in. I also believe that being a current student provides me the opportunity to see areas of improvement regarding LGBTQIA+ related matters.

To me, Pride Month means unconditional acceptance and celebration of everybody. Pride month is a celebration of every single person who identifies as LGBTQIA+. Celebrating can manifest in various forms from large energetic pride parades to smaller, intimate commemorations of acceptance. I see Pride Month as a time for beautiful music, vibrant colours and limitless joy.

Above all else, Pride Month is a protest. A protest against the inequality experienced byLGBTQIA+ identifying people across the world and in the United Kingdom.

I believe that rainbow-washing has both positive and negative repercussions for the community. It can be seen as positive by raising awareness for queer people in society and has the ability to provide affordable Pride merchandise. However, rainbow-washing can also be viewed negatively as the focus from LGBTQIA+ operated businesses is essentially shifted towards the mass conglomerates.

Further, rainbow-washing at Pride can lead to well-intentioned purchases landing in the hands of those who don’t share the values associated with the LGBT community. Overall, I think rainbow-washing is mostly harmful to the LGBTQIA+ community if the brands behind the messaging do not implement sustainable change, policies and inclusivity that positively impact the LGBTQIA+ community.

Pride is represented at the University in a multitude of ways. One of which are the various Pride parade entries that the University has participated in across the country. I recently attended Birmingham Pride and The University of Law entry walked in the parade. Further, Pride is represented by the donations given by staff and students during Pride Month who have donated to various LGBTQIA+ charities.

Most of all, Pride is represented on campus every day by the students and staff members who continuously promote equality and attend University-operated LGBTQIA+ events.

My experience at The University of Law, as a member of the LGBTQIA+ Society, has been overwhelmingly positive. I have always felt like I belonged, and I feel valued as an individual. There has always been a plethora of support in the form of services provided by the University and individuals to speak to about any issues or concerns.

For allies, I would recommend listening to people from the LGBTQIA+ community and to platform their voices when possible. I would advise allies to call out homophobia or transphobia when you see it and report these kinds of comments or incidents to the relevant personnel. I would also suggest to allies to attend Pride events (these are free!) and to support local queer-owned businesses.

To any prospective students, I would say that The University of Law will provide you with all of the necessary support and encouragement. There are many opportunities to enact substantial change for the LGBTQIA+ community, for example, you could become the next LGBTQIA+ officer or work in the student parliament as a class rep, vice president or president of the Student Union. Overall, my advice to prospective students would be to enjoy yourself at university, work towards fulfilling your personal goals and be engaged with your community in as many ways as possible.


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