Discrimination and marginalisation will not be tolerated at UCL: A statement from the Provost
23 February 2022
Discrimination and marginalisation will not be tolerated at UCL: statement in support of trans, non-binary and gender non-conforming students and staff.
By President & Provost Dr Michael Spence
I am writing in response to a very constructive meeting that I had with students from the LGBTQ+ Students Network last week to address concerns arising from the decision of the University Management Committee not to rejoin the Stonewall Diversity Champions Programme or enter the 2023 Workplace Equality Index. I want to reassure our students, staff, alumni and friends that UCL is, and will always be, utterly supportive of your right to live openly and safely and to be respected and valued for who you are; it is also a place where discrimination and marginalisation will not be tolerated.
I acknowledge that many students and staff, and particularly those who are trans, non-binary and gender non-conforming, have been hurt and worried by UCL’s decision. Discrimination against, and the marginalisation of, trans, non-binary and gender non-conforming people exists both in society at large, and at UCL, and many saw our participation in the Stonewall schemes as protection against such discrimination and marginalisation.
The decision not to rejoin those schemes was taken because of particular concerns about Stonewall as an organisation. Nevertheless, as a community, we must remain wholly committed to ensuring that ours is a university where everyone can be their whole self without fear of prejudice, hostility, harassment or discrimination. This is not only an institutional commitment, but also one that I personally take very seriously. Where discrimination and marginalisation persist at UCL, I condemn it fully and am committed to seeing it eradicated from our community.
The protections and support that have been in place over many years for LGBTQ+ members of our community remain in place following the Stonewall decision. Additionally, over the next year, we will be developing and putting in place further actions to understand and tackle inequalities that trans, non-binary and gender non-conforming people still experience at UCL.
This work will be led by the new LGBTQ+ Equality Implementation Group, which will develop an action plan to respond to the experiences of LGBTQ+ staff and students at UCL. It will include student representation and its work will be open and fully transparent.
In the short-term, and ahead of the actions that the group will identify, I have agreed to implement the following measures as recommended by the LGBTQ+ Students Network:
- Improving UCL’s systems so that staff and students can change their name swiftly and easily. UCL’s policy and guidance for students transitioning gender makes it clear that trans students should always be referred to by their preferred name and that student records and student ID cards can be updated. In practice, we understand that this is not a straightforward process for many students. A task & finish group has been set up and will report back within a week with an initial plan to improve this process. I will update on this activity next week.
- Establishment of a small-grants fund to support the particular needs of trans, non-binary, and gender non-conforming students, similar to that in place at the University of Oxford. I am happy to commit to working with Students' Union UCL to establish such a fund and expect that it will be place for the start of the 2022/23 academic year, with full details published in advance of that time.
- Ensuring that all new buildings at UCL include gender-neutral toilets. I can confirm that UCL’s policy is that all new builds and major refurbishments will include both gender neutral and single sex/gender toilets. Gender neutral toilets have been provided in recent building works including the Student Centre, the Wilkins Building, the Lower Refectory, and others. They are also provided at both the Pool Street West and Marshgate sites at UCL East, and the new neuroscience facility on Grays Inn Road. A map of different toilet facilities is online and we will work to improve awareness of this map and ensure it remains up to date as our campus develops.
The responsibility to act proactively to develop a supportive and inclusive environment for trans, non-binary and gender non-conforming students and staff lies with UCL. However, it is vital that the voices and experiences of the LGBTQ+ community are at the centre of this work. Please continue to share your experiences, needs and challenges with us through LEIG, Students Union UCL’s sabbatical officers and the LGBTQ+ Students Network. Please also do report any discriminatory incidents you experience via Report+Support; all reports, whether named or anonymous, are taken extremely seriously and help to build a picture of the situation at UCL. A full list of support available to staff and students is below.
Trans, non-binary and gender non-conforming students and staff are a valued part of our community, and UCL is diminished if they are unable to live their lives here fully. I, and my leadership team, are fully committed to taking action to create an environment where all diversity is celebrated and everyone feels welcome and included.
Discussing UCL's Stonewall decision with UCL's Provost Michael Spence and Students' Union UCL LGBQ+ Officer Angel Ma
Sources of support at UCL:
- Student Support and Wellbeing
- Students’ Union UCL Advice Centre
- Student Psychological and Counselling Services
- UCL Report+Support
- UCL Student Mediator
- LGBTQ+ Students Network
- UCL Trans Network
- LGBTQ+ Equality Steering Group