LGBT+ Network for staff and postgraduate students

This group is for all University of Glasgow staff and postgraduate students who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT).

Our + sign represents gender identities and sexual orientations not included in the term LGBT and ensures we will always be inclusive of everyone in our community.

Rainbow Flag 2015

The LGBT+ Network was founded in 2007 and was one of the first in Higher Education in Scotland. We aim to provide a welcoming environment in which members can:

  • Meet regularly for networking and social events
  • Support one another within the institution by providing a safe space for the discussion of LGBT+ issues
  • Inform University management with respect to LGBT+ Equality & Diversity
  • Distribute information about relevant LGBT+ events within and outwith the University

Not a member but need support?
Even if you are not a member of the Network and wish to speak to someone confidentially and receive support/advice about any LGBT+ issues (this may include any experiences of homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying and harassment) please do make contact.  

For contact details and information on the Network's Facebook page, see Contact Us.

Undergraduate Student at Glasgow?
Undergraduate students at the University of Glasgow should contact the GULGBTQ+ student association which is affiliated with the University's Students' Representative Council and won Student Group of the Year in the Scottish LGBTI Awards in 2015.

Homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying and harassment - in addition to the Network, support is also available from the University's Respect Advisers Network (a number of which have received LGBT+ Allies training).

Staff LGBT+ Role Models

The University believes individuals can inspire and empower others to change the world. Our staff Role Models share their experiences of being LGBT+ in their workplaces at the University and aim to show that being yourself should never be a barrier to success.

Photograph of Professor Dee Heddon

Name: Professor Dee Heddon

Role: James Arnott Chair in Drama; Director of the Scottish Graduate School for Arts & Humanities; Deputy Head of College of Arts
Length of time at the University of Glasgow:   13 years
Identity: Cis lesbian

What drew you to working at University of Glasgow?
I completed my undergraduate degree and PhD here. I worked at the University of Exeter for seven years but was keen to return to Scotland, the city of Glasgow and my alma mater, so I jumped when the opportunity became available. I think the University is a great place to work and in large part that’s because it is firmly embedded in meaningful partnerships with diverse organisations across the city. It’s a privilege to be part of a university committed to its civic role. 

How can employers support their LGBT+ staff?
Well, this is a great initiative for starters! It is important that LGBT+ students and staff are visible on campus, have a voice and a presence and can be themselves with pride and without fear. We are, after all, everywhere! I love it when the rainbow flag is flown on campus, signalling for all the university’s pride in its LGBT+ community. That the University has appointed Equality Champions from across the most senior management team is also excellent practice. The LGBT+ Equality Champion is my colleague Professor Roibeard O Maolalaigh, VP and Head of the College of Arts. Robby demonstrates through his very active commitment the important role played by allies in the ongoing struggles for greater equality. Everyone has a part to play.

Why is it important to have role models?
While great progress has been made in both cultural and legislative terms in relation to LGBT+ equality, homophobia and unconscious biases against LGBT+ people remain a fact of life. Young people - and not so young people! - are still scared to name and claim their LGBT+ identities and live authentic lives (lives that in turn are more liveable and fulfilling). I am a lesbian. Here I am, occupying a number of senior roles in our University and hopefully making a positive contribution. I have been with my partner for nearly 25 years. I’m proud of that too! 

How do you represent LGBT+ experiences in your teaching?
None of the courses I teach at the moment is singularly focused on LGBT+ experiences. However, in all of my courses and lectures I include examples or case studies of LGBT+ work, whether that is radical queer performance that challenges notions of binary gender or activist theatre which uses the words of real people to make visible ongoing oppression and inequalities and the very real - lived - impacts of those. Theatre is an immensely powerful tool through which to engage both hearts and minds and it is important that the students I work with are alert to that.

What do you think has been the most significant step toward LGBT+ Equality so far?
Well, we have yet to see it in practice but I think the Scottish Government’s commitment to LGBTI inclusive education marks a significant milestone in the journey from the hate signalled by Section 28

The Equality Act of 2010, which made discrimination on the basis of sexuality unlawful, is an important historical marker too. It offers not only a cultural indicator of what is now socially unacceptable but a framework for redress in the face of discrimination.

Is there any advice you would give a member of staff thinking of coming out?
You won’t be alone! There are lots of us here. If you are worried about negative impacts, know that the University has in place robust policies and processes which are there to protect you and colleagues from across the LGBT+ community are also there to support you. You could be a role model for our students and other colleagues. Together, we can be the difference we want to see.

Photograph of Aidan Robson

Name: Professor Aidan Robson

Role:  Professor of Particle Physics
Length of time at University of Glasgow:  
15 years
Identity:   Gay man
What drew you to working at University of Glasgow?
Towards the end of my DPhil, the perfect Post-Doc position was advertised at Glasgow.  I got it!  Next with a personal Research Fellowship; and later as an academic member of staff, my research work has been focused on different facilities around the world, including the discovery of the Higgs boson and designing the next generation of particle collider. University of Glasgow has been an excellent and extremely supportive base throughout.

How can employers support their LGBT+ staff?
They can embed their support at all levels starting from inclusive institutional policies to perhaps most importantly, trying to ensure a good culture locally in the Schools and Institutes.  People need to feel able to be their whole selves when they do research, teach, work, or study; and an inclusive environment is imperative to that.  While this may be led by Heads of School and line managers, it's shaped by everyone in the University, in our everyday attitudes towards our colleagues.

Why is it important to have role models?
I'm not sure how comfortable anyone is with the idea of being a role model!  But I hope that by being a visible, senior, LGBT+ member of the University and scientific communities, I can encourage people joining that they can succeed here, whoever they are, without feeling the need to conceal aspects of their identity for fear of somehow not fitting in.

How do you represent LGBT+ experiences in your work/teaching?
By giving talks, recording videos, doing interviews, and participating in events and social media campaigns related to being LGBT+ in STEM.  Also, for example, by adding the LGBT+ group oSTEM to physics course guides.  Perhaps there isn't much opportunity in an undergraduate physics curriculum for discussing personal perspectives, feelings, and values directly, as I imagine there could be in other disciplines.  But ultimately, science is done by people!  I hope that being visible and willing to talk about it helps encourage others who are LGBT+, and widen the perspectives of everyone else.
What do you think has been the most significant step toward LGBT+ Equality so far?
In my adult life: probably the repeal of Section 28 in Scotland in 2000, which had prevented any mention of LGBT+ issues in schools.  It was awful for teenagers.  It has taken a while to feed through, but I'm happy and amazed at the wonderful initiatives, both in individual schools around Scotland, and more widely like the TIE (Time for Inclusive Education) campaign, which has improved education for young people now.

Is there any advice you would give a member of staff thinking of coming out?
Great! For me, I wouldn't have it any other way. But quite a few of my LGBT+ friends are not really out at work, and I can understand that. And unfortunately, coming out isn't a one-time thing, it keeps recurring.  However, Scotland now is a good place and time to be LGBT+.  I hope we can all help to reinforce that. If you're thinking about coming out you should do whatever you feel comfortable doing, but know that there's plenty of support here.

Photograph of Nicole Kipar

Name: Mx Nicole Kipar

Role: Deputy Director Academic & Digital Development in the Learning Enhancement & Academic Development Service (LEADS)
Length of time at University of Glasgow:   2 years
Identity: Asexual Agender

What drew you to working at University of Glasgow?
My role sounded very interesting, which was the first and foremost motivator. The University also has an excellent reputation, which I have found to be true.

How can employers support their LGBT+ staff?
Through representation, visibility, and policies that ensure that the environment is safe and welcoming for its staff. It’s also about trust, and part of that trust is that if someone experiences negativity in relation to their identity, staff can feel assured that measures are in place to combat that.

Why is it important to have role models?
It’s all about representation once more and all about visibility. When I was growing up, and even when I was a student, I had no one “like me” that I knew of. Thus I figured that I wasn’t real, that I must be doing something wrong or misunderstanding something that made me feel the way I did. Had I known that people exist who have no interest in sexual relations, and who don’t feel like either or any gender, my life would have been very different. I wish I had had role models and representation; I wish I had known that I was not “broken” but perfectly fine; I wish I had not desperately tried to fit both societal expectations and the expectations of those around me. At least what I thought was all around me. Representation supports the normalisation and the realisation that we humans exists in a fantastic kaleidoscope of variety: not binary, and not all sexual either.

I would have chosen they/them instead of she/her if this had been an option (that I’d been aware of) back when I was young. As it is, I have been she/her for 50 years and the pronouns have become a comfortably worn slipper. I don’t like the design of the slipper, but it’s been worn so long, it has become mine. Thus I use she/her but only because I am so used to it.

How do you represent LGBT+ experiences in your work?
I am open about who I am, and vocal about the fact that I don’t give a doodah about anyone’s gender identity, sexuality, or whatever else. All I care about is that someone is kind, what more would one need? I am thus hoping to encourage everyone I come in contact with to be their authentic selves, because I will respect and embrace that self – with the caveat that they should be kind.

What do you think has been the most significant step toward LGBT+ Equality so far?
Where do I even start? From watching Frankie Goes to Hollywood’s ‘Relax’ video for the first time in 1984 as a teenager, and feeling as if my mind exploded with all the possibilities of being, to cheering on the folks carrying the huge trans flag at a Scottish Pride march. So much has happened in between. Most importantly was decriminalisation, followed by legal protection, including discrimination becoming illegal. Then, of course, mainstream media: I remember the first same sex kiss in a German soap opera in 1990, which heralded a slow but steady increase in inclusion and representation. It’s all about visibility.

Is there any advice you would give a member of staff thinking of coming out?
I am working with so many wonderfully varied people, with all kinds of identities, which I hope is true for every area in the University. I feel that the University of Glasgow is a warm and welcoming place, so if you are wondering about coming out, why don’t you join the LGBT+ Facebook group and dip your toes in the water and see how you might feel.


If you work at the University and would like to nominate a staff member as a Role Model, please contact the LGBT+ Staff Network