As our celebration of LGBTQ+ History Month continues, Sarah Guerra, Director of Equality, Diversity & Inclusion at King’s College London reflects on her own journey and asks readers how they will be better allies to members of the LGBTQ+ community.
This LGBTQ+ History Month marks my 5th anniversary at King’s. It also sees me deciding to leave King’s later this year and means I have been in a reflective mood. One of the areas of the Equality, Diversity & Inclusion Strategy and development I am most proud of is working to develop and collaborate with staff networks. Proudly King’s are our ‘oldest’ network. This year for LGBTQ+ History month I would particularly like to amplify their voice and efforts.
Proudly King’s as a network has helped me learn and discover so much about myself. Indeed, their support and community helped me ‘come out’ firstly to myself then to the wider world (in my late 40s!). Learning and understanding about my own sexual orientation has really changed my perspective on so many things that have happened through my life and built my confidence.
This year Proudly King’s has organised an LGBTQ+ History Month which focuses on trans, non-binary and gender non-conforming experiences. As part of this they will celebrate a trans trailblazer every day in February on twitter @ProudlyKings – do give them a follow as well as @kcldiversity if you don’t already. Proudly is also putting on a fantastic range of events for the whole King’s community. I am really hoping I can make some! I would encourage everyone – whatever your sexual orientation or gender identity – to sign up to attend these.
A significant part of my job is to ensure that we as a university have all the right elements in place to recognise and fulfil our responsibility to ensure all staff and students feel safe. We have a particular responsibility to ensure those that are often overlooked or misunderstood, like many of those who identify under the LGBTQ+ umbrella, are explicitly included and able to thrive. If you want to find out more about the breadth of work we do in relation to EDI at King’s check out our annual report.
I have tried hard over the years to listen, understand and build empathy and compassion. This is my attempt to role model what I urge you all to do – actively practice allyship every day. Take a look at our LGBTQ+ Allyship toolkit which includes resources and advice on how to be a better ally to trans and non-binary people.
The toolkit contains lots of suggestions as to how to build and demonstrate your allyship. That could be by attending one of the events mentioned above or by booking into a Trans Matters training session. Just as important is to hold yourself accountable and encourage others to become better allies. One way is to make a pledge today via Proudly’s Allyship Campaign.
So, I will end with asking you, dear reader, how will you celebrate LGBTQ+ History month and how will you be a better ally to the to the LGBTQ+ community this February?
Director of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion