IEDP, 24 February 2014

Seminar 2 in our Working to Make Equality Happen series took place in Birmingham and focused on LGBT equality. Fifty people attended, mainly from public sector organisations and from the West Midlands region.

The morning panel was chaired by David Viney from Birmingham LGBT and consisted of four speakers.

Erika Goodwin, Chair of Gender Matters spoke about being trans, highlighting some of the day-to-day concerns as well as the barriers experienced in the transition process, particularly in relation to the role of psychiatrists. 

Natalya Dell from BiConcontinuity Ltd and Birmingham University pointed out that bisexual people are often treated as if they don’t exist or are not believed. She strongly recommended the Bisexuality Report 2012 from the Open University.

Jason Arthur works for Gender Matters and added a perspective from those who were female assigned but move towards male identity. He reinforced the importance of day-to-day issues such as the use of pronouns and toilets and emphasised the importance of respect and kindness.

Wayne Simmonds, from United Colours and a student at Birmingham University, joined us briefly to share with us his experiences of being black and gay. He described the impact of homophobia in Jamaica, where he grew up, and Nigeria, and how this results in people leading double lives. He said how important it was to have safe spaces, such as this seminar, but also within the black communities in the UK and in schools. He argued that the churches and education have important roles to play.

In the afternoon,Dawn Jutton, from Creative Projects and an LGBT activist, shared her experiences as a gay parent and how the challenges of ‘coming out’ never seem to stop. Now as a Grandparent!  From some mixed professional experiences she drew several clear action points as well as things to laugh about. 

Sharon Pegg from the Co-operative Group showed us how the company had achieved third place in the Stonewall Workplace Equality Index with a combination of workplace networks and community engagement over several years.  In 2013 the company launched the UK’s first Inter-Retail LGBT network called checkOUT.

The rest of the afternoon was spent in lively, roundtable discussions about LGBT issues, focusing on examples of positive practice, issues of concern and suggestions for the IEDP and other organisations.  People had lots to say so inevitably we ran short of time but all the groups came up with valuable points. Click here for a summary of the Notes from roundtable discussions .

Many thanks go to the contributors and all those who attended - there was a really open, honest atmosphere in the room with little dissent about the main issues. Some might have liked more debate and argument!


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