The LGBT+ Network offers a platform for all lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer staff and students at Leiden University.
Apart from these groups, everyone who has a connection with the University is welcome to take part in the Network's activities. The main aim of the LGBT+ Network is to promote the inclusion of its target group; that also includes non-LGBT+ staff students. The Network also works closely with Leiden Pride, an organisation focusing on LGBT+ students.
“Leiden University strives to be an inclusive university where all students and staff feel welcome, and feel free to develop themselves. I therefore fully support the LHBT+ Network.”
Prof. Hester Bijl, Rector Magnificus
The LGBT+ Network was set up in 2018 to broaden and improve the effectiveness and legitimacy of diversity policies relating to LGBT+ staff and students. The principle is that everyone benefits from flexible, freer or non-binary approaches to gender and sexuality, in the LGBT community as well as in the broader University community.
The prime objective of the LGBT+ Network is to broaden the visibility of the LGBT+ community within the University, and to achieve greater inclusion in the work place and the lecture rooms, as well as in University policies. The network acts as a sounding board for the Diversity Office and the Executive Board. This also makes it an advisory body for the Executive Board and all other University departments.
The network provides an opportunity for like-minded members of staff and students to meet, exchange experiences and support one another. The network creates a safe environment where people can speak openly, and also organises a range of valuable activities.
The LGBT+ Network advises the Diversity Office and the Executive Board on matters relating to University policy on LGBT+. The network intends to make an inventory among a large group of LGBT+ students and staff to find out what their wishes and needs are.
It is worth remembering that there are confidenteial counsellors and ambassadors in the faculties who represent and support students and staff. The LGBT+ Network is also setting up awareness courses for lecturers and coordinators of studies to help them handle LGBT+ problems that students may be struggling with. In addition, the Network is looking at ways of promoting non-binary language use, in other words, language where people are referred to directly as either men or women.
And finally, the LGBT+ Network fosters solidarity within the LGBT+ community with lectures, debates, drinks, film evenings and other activities. Everyone linked to the University is welcome to attend these events. Besides students, who are generally not shy about taking part in these activities, the network is also there expressly for staff and alumni. It is not necessary to be a member.
Although the LGBT community is a forceful, active and indispensable group of committed individuals, it is all too often invisible and vulnerable: in spite of a high level of acceptance, LGBT staff are more frequently confronted with inappropriate comments than their heterosexual colleagues. And many students are hesitant about publicly expressinig their sexual orientation or gender identity.
Diversity policies that reflect the different groups are more effective than a single policy for all groups. For LGBT+ staff and students it is important that the policies are in line with their wishes and needs: they are not by definition recognisable as LGBT+, so it is therefore easier for them to hide this aspect of their nature, which means they can easily be seen as a minority group without any significant challenges. This explains why this substantial group within the University is not represented in policy issues and more generally in opening up LGBT+ issues for debate.
The LGBT+ Network is made up of staff and students from Leiden University. A number of different committees have been set up to help the LGBT+ Network achieve its goals; each committee deals with specific subjects, such as data collection and organising training sessions. The Network also organises regular events together with other organisations.
The LGBT+ ambassadors act as contact points within the faculties and units.
“I fully support the LGBT+ Network for two reasons. First, everyone should be able to simply be themselves. You should be able to feel at home in your city, university and institute, whatever your background, religion, gender or love life. Second, diversity causes science to grow and thrive. And creativity grows and flourishes when people can be themselves. In that respect, our university has the most beautiful motto anyone could think of: Praesidium Libertatis, ‘bastion of freedom’. A university flourishes when there is freedom of thought, freedom of action and freedom of being. This means the freedom for employees and students to be who they are, and for everyone to experience that freedom and science go hand in hand at this university.”