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a hand holds a rainbow flag in front of UQ St Lucia's sandstone cloisters

How UQ is proudly supporting the LGBTQIA+ community

Uni life
Published 10 Nov, 2023  ·  3-minute read

When you visit The University of Queensland’s (UQ) St. Lucia campus, you will notice the rainbow flag atop the Forgan Smith Building. This flag is a constant reminder that UQ fosters a safe space for the LGBTQIA+ community – a community I am proud to belong to.

In this article, I will discuss just a few of the ways that UQ supports the LGBTQIA+ community to help students and staff alike feel welcomed and celebrated.

LGBTQIA+ visibility and inclusion at UQ

Perhaps the most impactful means of support for LGBTQIA+ people on campus is through the UQ Ally Network. The UQ Ally Network is an award-winning program that educates UQ staff members on how to create safe, welcoming, and inclusive spaces for UQ’s LGBTQIA+ community. As a staff member at The University of Queensland Art Museum, I was fortunate enough to participate in this program and can attest to the fact that it is world class.

Scholarships for LGBTQIA+ students

In addition to the support of the UQ Ally Network, there is also financial support available to UQ’s LGBTQIA+ students through the UQ LGBTQIA+ Bursary. This bursary, established in 2013, eases financial burdens faced by LGBTQIA+ students. Students who – due to social stigma – are more likely to experience bullying, harassment and poor mental health throughout their lifetimes. The LGBTQIA+ Bursary aims to ease at least one stressor faced by LGBTQIA+ students in the hopes that they will succeed in their studies and create the lives that they dream of.

UQ’s LGBTQIA+ Bursary will open for applications mid-late February 2024. Keep an eye out on the scholarships website to apply.

The student-run UQ Union Queer Collective also offers Gender Affirmation Bursaries to assist students experiencing financial hardship to access gender affirming items, products, services and care. This may include wearable items such as binders and gaffs, medical treatment such as hormones, gender counselling, or the cost of a legal name or sex change.

Flags fly atop UQ's Forgan Smith Building on St Lucia campus

Wear it Purple Day

Wear it Purple Day was co-founded by Katherine Hudson and Scott Williams in 2010 as a means of increasing visible allyship for at-risk LGBTQIA+ youth. It has since developed into an international phenomenon—one that UQ proudly participates in annually to help create a supportive, safe, empowering and inclusive campus culture. During Wear it Purple Day, staff and students alike wear their best purple outfits and participate in a number of events and activities across campus in order to spread an important and simple message: everyone has the right to be proud of who they are.

Paving the way for queer expression

During this year’s Wear it Purple Day, I was proud to be a panellist for a discussion hosted by the UQ Art Museum. “Paving the way for queer expression” explored how queer expression in the arts validates queer experiences and creates a sense of belonging for emerging generations. Together with Professor Heather Zwicker, Dr. Karin Selberg, Jarad Bruinstroop, and Sal Edwards, I discussed the importance of queer representation in the arts, as well as what queer creators can do to inspire the emerging LGBTQIA+ generations.

If you are a member of the LGBTQIA+ community considering tertiary study at UQ, you can rest assured that you will discover a safe, supportive community. That rainbow flag, flying high above the St. Lucia campus, is a constant reminder that we are safe here; we belong here.

Discover how UQ academic, Dr Pauline Pounds, is enhancing transgender visibility in engineering, or find out more about the Queer Collective and how you can connect with fellow students in the LGBTQIA+ community at UQ.

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