Southampton is a strong supporter of lesbian, gay and bisexual equality. We are a Stonewall Diversity Champion, our LGBT staff network was one of our first networks to form and we have been a founding member of several LGBT equality groups. Meanwhile, the student LGBT Society has continued to offer a range of social, political and awareness-raising events.
We are proud to have an inclusive Equality Opportunities Policy and Dignity at Work and Study Policy, which sets out the University's expectations of all staff and students to respect their gay, lesbian and bisexual colleagues. We also have a Sexual Orientation Policy which extends specific provisions to gay, bisexual and lesbian staff and students.
This is in addition to our inclusive staff benefits policies, which are supportive of same-sex couples who have children (including surrogacy) or adopt, compassionate/domestic leave for cohabiting couples, pension contributions and payouts for same-sex partners and inclusive medical and dental plans.
In March 2010, the University became a Stonewall 'Diversity Champion', demonstrating our dedication to equality for lesbian, gay and bisexual staff. This is also reflected in Stonewall's 'Gay by Degree' guide, which aims to help LGB university applicants in choosing a friendly environment where they can study.
As part of our membership of the programme, Stonewall has offered continual guidance to improve our provision for LGB equality, and networking opportunities to discuss our LGB equality strategy with colleagues from other universities and organisations.
Following the consultation work conducted for the Equality Plan, the Sexual Orientation Working Group identified a need for a LGBT Staff Network. Volunteers canvassed members of the University at the IDAHO awareness event in May 2010, collecting email addresses of those interested. The Network's inaugaral meeting was held in the Nuffield Studio Café in July 2010, and the Network has gone from strength to strength since.
Full details of the Network, and also the student LGBT Society, are available on the networks and societies page.
The University of Southampton is proud to be a founding member of several multi-agency, community interest and organisational forums.
In December 2010, we were represented by the Network Chair and the Diversity Officer at the first meeting of the Russell Group LGBT Equality Forum, hosted by Cambridge University. Through the forum, Russell Group equality practitioners and LGBT networks can discuss and collaborate on work to improve LGBT equality in Higher Education, and arrange and promote events across our organisations. It is the first Russell Group equality forum dedicated to the cause of a specific minority group.
The University is also a founding member of two regional groups for LGBT equality: the Southampton LGB&T Equality Group, and the Hampshire LGB&T Equality Forum. Each group facilitates cooperative working between organisations, voluntary groups, public services, charities and businesses in their respective areas, with the aim of improving LGBT equality in the region. The groups also work together, with the Southampton group represented on the Hampshire group. The University is proud to support these networks through organising and hosting meetings, and ongoing participation.