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Advancing equality and diversity in universities and colleges


Lesbian, gay and bisexual people

HEIs can make a significant difference to the lives of their lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) staff and students by adopting a clear approach to LGB equality and providing appropriate support.

Social attitudes to sexual orientation have changed significantly over the last few decades in the UK; however, many lesbian, gay and bisexual people still face discrimination, harassment and isolation. Research undertaken by ECU in 2009, which collected evidence from 4205 members of staff and students from higher education institutions in England, Northern Ireland and Wales, found that a significant number of LGB people in HE felt that there was room for improvement in the approach their institutions took to LGB equality.

Current statistics

The latest national statistics on sexual orientation data for staff and students in higher education can be found in our statistical reports. Note that the collection of sexual orientation data is not yet a mandatory return to HESA. ECU will support individual institutions with queries about data collection and disclosures, and continues to work closely with HESA. Further details can be found in our guidance on monitoring questions.

Ongoing work

ECU continues to work with the sector and individual institutions on supporting LGB+ staff and students, and welcomes examples of best practice. We also work with relevant third sector organisations such as Stonewall, and support organisations like the LGBT+ Network of staff Networks.

Please contact ECU’s Senior Policy Adviser with responsibility for sexual orientation, Jess Moody, to discuss policy guidance, consultancy, or contributions to events around LGB+ student and staff experiences.