LGBTQ+ Research at Glasgow
The University of Glasgow is home to a thriving research culture which includes projects that focus on LGBTQ+ topics. This page aims to bring together research from across the Colleges, to provide reference, inspiration, and increase scope for inter-disciplinary exchange.
If you would like to submit LGBTQ+ research for this page, please send a brief summary up to 50 words, info such as dates, School and/or College, a link to your research profile page and to any resources e.g. reports, toolkits, guidelines, etc. to Eleanor Capaldi.
Read more about research in adjacent fields at Equality Research at the University
Embedding LGBT Equality in the Curriculum and the Classroom
Embedding LGBT Equality in the Curriculum and the Classroom was funded by the University's Learning and Teaching Development Fund (LTDF) in 2018. The research project sought to address the lack of representation of LGBT+ identities in the curriculum, absence of which has been shown to adversely affect attainment, student experience and retention. With our findings, we aimed to improve the University experience for students and staff in the teaching of an inclusive and diverse education.
Outcomes included a conference presentation at the 50 Years After Stonewall Conference, hosted at University of Edinburgh in 2019, a chapter in a collection from Routledge (publication date tbc), and a workshop to increase awareness of and enhance learning around LGBT+ inclusive education, which has been delivered to colleagues in the University and in an adapted version, to NHS Trusts. If you would be interested in a workshop for your School or College please contact Amanda.firstname.lastname@example.org.
Part of the research process involved the submission of case studies of current LGBTQ+ inclusive practice in the University, which can be found below. Thank you to all those who contributed in the course of the research. The project PI was Dr Amanda Sykes, the Research Assistant was Eleanor Capaldi.
Case Studies: College of Science and Engineering
School of Physics & Astronomy
How can employers support their LGBTQ+ staff? Employers can embed their support at all levels, starting from inclusive institutional policies through 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.
How do you represent LGBTQ+ experiences in your work/teaching? By giving talks, recording videos, doing interviews, and participating in events and social media campaigns related to being LGBTQ+ in STEM. Also, for example, by adding the LGBTQ+ 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 LGBTQ+, and widen the perspectives of everyone else.
Professor Aidan Robson
School of Psychology
Elly Barnes of the charity Educate and Celebrate refers to the process of “usualising” LGBT+ identities and experiences, rejecting the term “normalising” that can reinforce the idea that there is a way of moving through the world that is “normal”. As a member of the LGBT+ community myself, I understand the power of seeing your identity reflected in your environment. This is no less true for an academic environment and so my approach is one of usualising the inclusion of LGBT+ identities and experiences into existing teaching and support.
The most prominent example of this came when we had the opportunity to rebuild the level 2 psychology Individual Differences component in 2018/2019. We decided that rather than a traditional structure of teaching lectures themed around personality and intelligence, each lecture would be loosely based on one of the Equality Act (2010) Protected Characteristics and we would discuss how personality, intelligence, and social attitudes interacted with these characteristics. The result was that sex, gender, and sexual orientation were discussed alongside topics such as age, religiosity, and mental and physical health, rather than as a specific LGBT+ focused module that could risk compartmentalising LGBT+ issues as distinct from other individual differences that are irrelevant to those that are not members of the community. The lectures were exceptionally well-received, and students commented that they appreciated the applied nature of the course that allowed them to connect their studies in psychology with real-life equality and diversity issues. Furthermore, a number of students expressed their appreciation at being taught about LGBT+ issues by a visible LGBT+ person.
Dr Emily Nordmann
School of Geographical & Earth Sciences
Human Geography Lab Project: Imagined Geographies of the West End
Developed in the context of social sciences, the Researcher Positionality exercise connects the lived experience of the researcher to their work – something which could be valuable to the fields of multiple sciences.
• Working in groups, the exercise serves several purposes:
• Lets students introduce themselves personally to their groupmates;
• Helps students recognise the variety of familiarity, discomfort, experience, utility with/of a given geographical area, within their group;
• Gets students thinking about what might influence the methods/location/power relations/appropriateness of their research approach;
• Helps students acknowledge the personal in a research study and work with adjusting methods/research questions as appropriate;
• Gives a chance for students to disclose personal boundaries that may affect the carrying out of particular research;
• Helps students skills audit as a group to devise the most effective approach.
Researcher Positionality Individual questions
Only share information you are comfortable with in the group discussion
How might your age, gender, nationality and language abilities influence your research?
What kind of research methods are you interested in/comfortable using? How is this informed by your degree and previous experience?
Do you know/use the field area you have been assigned?
If yes in what way?
Dr Hannah Mathers
Case Studies: College of Arts
School of Modern Languages & Cultures
“Thinking about the diversity of our curriculum is important for two reasons. Firstly, it signals to students that we care about inclusivity and that the University offers a space where ideas can be discussed constructively. Secondly, it allows us as researchers to think about our own prejudices and assumptions, which can give us a whole new perspective on our work. The best way we can be more inclusive is to make small changes at local level, whether that’s including a more diverse range of examples in our teaching slides or even just acknowledging that we are looking at something from one particular perspective.”
Diversifying Our Courses Advice – School of Modern Languages & Cultures
Initially developed by colleagues in the School of Humanities to counter gender stereotypes in aiming for gender equality, this modified guidance distributed amongst the School of ML&C suggests methods that are helpful in attempting to broaden inclusion in the curriculum and classroom
Diversifying my courses would take too much time. It will take time, but the pay-offs are significant: countering stereotypes and biases that are constraining LGBT+ students and academics; giving proper recognition to research done by LGBT+ individuals; and re-vitalising tired reading lists and becoming aware yourself of good work that has previously eluded you. Note that if only members of under-represented groups diversify their courses, this sends an unhelpful message: that only they rate the work of members of that group.
Finding sources. Consider asking fellow academics—personally or via social media—for suggestions of work on specific topics by under-represented groups. At some universities, GTAs have been paid to help academics diversify their lists. If students are involved in “co-creating” a course, that’s another context in which they might contribute.
Keeping on it. Your reading list’s diversity, once achieved, can be eroded as you update it over the years. Also, monitor the resources of the kind mentioned above so that when women or other under-represented groups start working more in a particular area you know about it.
Diversity in the language classroom:
When creating PowerPoints with images, ensure you include a diverse range of people of different genders, races and ages.
When teaching grammar, particularly grammatical gender, point out that grammatical gender is different to social constructions of gender but that it does shape how people who speak the language you are teaching understand gender.
Try to embed diversity into any examples on PowerPoints (e.g. use a mix of male and female names, include some gender-neutral names, ensure you use names from across the world, use same-sex couples as examples).
If you are setting up a debate or dealing with social issues, make sure you acknowledge that whilst people may have different views, the classroom should be safe space and all views must be expressed with respect for others. It might be useful to assign students certain point of view for the purpose of the debate as a language exercise.
Dr Eamon McCarthy
School of Culture and Creative Arts
The Activist Stage is a Theatre Studies Honours course taught by Dr Stephen Greer. The course guide describes the module as “exploring the relationships between performance and activism, drawing on diverse practices… to examine the techniques and intentions of contemporary art which claims a political imperative.” Each week introduced a different area of political performance, ranging from protest actions, to dramatic plays, and community artworks.
Greer specifically pursued an LGBTQ+ inclusive curriculum, inspired party by his own queer identity and research speciality but also commenting that pragmatically it heightens productivity; you are teaching a diverse group of individuals who will likely engage further if their identity is reflected in the course material. One week of the course was specifically framed around LGBTQ+ identities, analysing pride parades/protests as complex activist performance. The required texts for this week analysed various LGBTQ+ direct action groups and performances, discussing stereotypes of gender and sexuality, ‘rainbow capitalism’, and violation of LGBTQ+ human rights. Outside the week specifically focussed on LGBTQ+ issues, the course continued to touch on them with required readings either written by or including queer individuals, as well as other marginal identities. Self-study questions were used to encourage discussion on the importance of intersectional identity.
Greer practiced a teaching strategy informed by intersectionality - stressing the importance of recognising student diversity, how individual world views are shaped by unique social situations and the complex ways in which structural forms of privilege and disadvantage might intersect. The first lecture highlighted that while some course material covers contentious topics, the classroom environment was “intended as a space of civil discussion and informed debate”, recommending students “spend at least as much time listening as speaking” and “trying to understand a point of view before critiquing it.” This first lecture encouraged a diverse and inclusive classroom environment, which enabled valuable discussions about LGBTQ+ issues throughout the course.
Interview with Dr Stephen Greer by Rachel Aitken
Case Studies: College of Social Sciences
School of Social and Political Sciences
We’re Here. We’re Queer…
One of the most important aspects of teaching at the University of Glasgow is the incorporation of research-led teaching into learning and teaching provision. This has acted as a spur to develop courses that reflected my own research and publication backgrounds, but also to meet the demands of an increasingly diverse student body.
Within my subject area, Economic and Social History, there was considerable diversity in the provision of teaching, from a focus upon business history, economic history, globalisation, medical history and gender history, but yet little diversity when it came to sexualities. I was encouraged to develop this course by student feedback on a lecture I had delivered on Level 2 Economic and Social History: ‘Queering Post-War Britain’. Many comments praised the inclusion of LGBT histories but also expressed the fact that most students were ignorant of this history. What I could see was that there was a thirst for greater diversity in teaching the history of gender and sexualities. What did exist tended to frame such content from the perspective of heterosexuality. As a result, I developed two new honours options: Youth Culture, Deviance and Society and Sexualities and Social Control. While the first of these courses incorporated two topics focusing on LGBT identities and experiences, the second course explicitly examined LGBT histories within Great Britain, with every lecture embedding LGBT experience centrally, inverting the heterosexual prism through which sexual and gender expression have been viewed.
The course used a very healthy bibliography of both primary and secondary sources, and although there is a wealth of secondary materials on LGBT histories, students thrived on the ability to ‘uncover’ hidden or marginalised experiences through images, personal testimonies, and newspaper reports covering a period from the late nineteenth century to the late twentieth century. This enabled students to critically reflect on the history of sexualities, and led to considerable, and positive, debates on the place of LGBT histories within the social science history discipline.
In part, I was responding to student demands, as well as embedding research-led teaching, but I was also responding to concerns that LGBT+ experiences and histories are still somewhat marginalised within history teaching provision, something that the Royal Historical Society has been investigating recently.” Student feedback noted the paucity, still, of LGBTQ+ provisions within history teaching, so I think there is still some way to go in providing a fully diverse compliment of study options.
Dr Jeff Meek
Case Studies: College of MVLS
School of Medicine, Dentistry and Nursing
Introduction of inclusive teaching into the MBChB curriculum
With increasing recognition of the diverse and specific needs of transgender individuals in a health care setting, lack of knowledge, poor attitudes and prejudice towards transgender patients can result in this population being afraid to access medical care. Educating medical students early in their career in a sensitive and inclusive manner could help change these attitudes. It has been shown that medical undergraduates and post graduates often feel unprepared or uncomfortable in caring for transgender patients due to lack of training and experience. In order to address this, a small study was carried out within the Reproduction, Nephrology and Urology teaching block of the Year 2 Undergraduate Medical Curriculum.
An hour-long lecture was prepared and delivered to Year 2 undergraduate medical students by a Gender Specialist containing terminology associated with gender dysphoria, the health pathway of a transitioning patient and medical options for transitioning patients.
A survey was given to Year 2 students before and after the lecture to discern understanding and comfort using gender terminology, understanding of medical and surgical management of transgender patients and well as opinions of introducing transgender healthcare into the medical curriculum. The results showed that before the lecture, students had:
Poor understanding of gender terminology e.g. binary, non-binary
Poor understanding of management (surgical, psychological)
Felt uncomfortable using terms transgender, binary and non-binary
After the lecture, improvements were shown in:
Understanding of terminology and management
Comfort using knowledge of terminology and management
Student comments included wanting more teaching on transgender patient mental health problems and more interactive sessions.
Our conclusion from the study was that although the lecture was beneficial, students would like more interactive teaching involving members of the transgender community to further improve their knowledge and confidence, and a lecture setting was not the most appropriate delivery method. Work has now developed into introducing this into small group teaching session.
Diversity in Problem Based Learning
As part of our problem based learning sessions, we have increased the diversity of the cases, including a variety of individuals. An example of one such case is shown below.
34-year-old Alice Davidson has come to see her GP Dr Shah. She describes how she is trying to get pregnant by artificial insemination using sperm from her friend Paul, as he has agreed to be a sperm donor for Alice and her partner Kate.
“I’m getting concerned as this is our tenth month of trying, and still nothing. Is it important that we have sexual intercourse for me to get pregnant?”
Dr Shah replies “No, that should not affect fertilisation. There could be a range of issues that are preventing you from achieving a pregnancy, these could be with you Alice, but it is also possible that it could be an issue with your donor’s reproductive tract, or in their sperm production, so it would be good to have you all checked”
Dr Shah tells Alice that she is concerned that she is using sperm from a friend rather than from a regulated sperm bank. Dr Shah mentions some safety considerations that Alice and Kate should be aware of when using sperm from a donor.
Alice replies that she wasn’t sure if they would be eligible for NHS treatment, as they are a same sex couple and her and Kate can’t afford to go private or buy sperm from a regulated sperm bank. She also mentions that she has had comments from people stating that IVF for same sex couples should not be available on the NHS as it is wasting money that could be used to treat more serious conditions.
Student Selected Components
The final area where we have looked at embedding LGBTQI+ equality into our curriculum is by offering Student Selected Components where students can choose to work on a project identifying areas where more inclusive teaching can be developed. This includes all protected characteristics, and has resulted in a number of small changes to our curriculum which have increased the visibility of LGBTQI+ issues.
We also have worked with the Medical School LBGTQI+ society and they have produced resources that we share with our students, an example of this is a video discussing the differences between sex and gender, which is relevant to when we are teaching the reproductive tract.
Dr Sharon Sneddon
School of Medicine, Dentistry and Nursing
This informative film from 2019 is based on themes arisen from focus groups and interviews involving 13 participants of varying ages, gender identities and stages of transition from LGBT Youth in Scotland.
The film was made by 5 contributors, sharing their personal experiences accessing healthcare and is a collaboration with NHS Scotland and the University of Glasgow, based on a research project.
My Genderation is an ongoing film project focusing on trans lives and trans experiences. All our content is created by trans people, about trans people, for a much wider audience. Currently run by Fox Fisher and Owl Fisher.
The Second Cut, novel, Prof Louise Welsh, Canongate, 2022. Welsh's latest book The Second Cut, engages with Queer characters and themes. Further information available at Canongate.
How should differences of sex, gender and sexuality be represented by UK surveys? Kirstie English (they/them), 2019-2022, College of Social Sciences, Sociology.
This research aims to improve how differences of sex, gender and sexuality are represented in UK surveys. It employs a sequential mixed-methods design to assess current survey practices from the perspectives of groups overlooked by UK surveys.
Understanding LGBT+ Youth Suicide in Scotland, Dr Hazel Marzetti, 2017-2020.
Funded by the College of MVLS and undertaken in the MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit.
This doctoral project sought to better understand factors contributing to, and protecting LGBT+ young people from, suicide, as well as exploring how LGBT+ young people understood their own experiences of suicidal distress and what they believed would reduce LGBT+ youth suicide in the future.
Dr Marzetti duscusses her research for the TRIUMPH Network (Transdisciplinary Research for the Improvement of Youth Mental Public Health)
"We are finding our voice is so unheard that it’s being erased by these bigger voices”: Investigating Relationships between Trans and Intersex Activists in Australia, Malta and the UK, Dr Rhi Harvey Humphrey, School of Social and Political Sciences, College of Social Science, 2021.
This ESRC-funded PhD addressed relationships between trans and intersex activists and activism. This project was conducted in three regions; Australia, Malta, and the UK, with a focus on Scotland. The thesis includes an ethnodrama (a written play text). Rhi is planning to stage the play as part of a postdoctoral fellowship at Strathclyde (https://pureportal.strath.ac.uk/en/persons/rhi-humphrey).