LGBTQ inclusive curricula – University of Birmingham
Uniquely, this best practice guide focusses on the widest range of academic disciplines as well as professional services, and includes:
- terminology relating to gender and sexuality
- an LGBTQ-inclusive ‘framework’ and exploration of different ‘depths’ of inclusivity
- subject-discipline specific guidance (examining how LGBTQ inclusion might vary between e.g. Arts and Humanities, STEM or more vocational programmes).
- Examination of the wider learning environment
- FAQs to consider challenging questions (“isn’t sex a private issue?”)
The guide takes care to break down different approaches to ‘inclusivity’ and to give practical guidance to teaching and other professional staff on how to ensure a welcoming and supportive environment for LGBTQ students to thrive within their disciplines.
‘We hope that all universities could ultimately develop awareness in all three domains – language, role models and curriculum content – about LGBTQ inclusion issues. For some subjects or areas, there may be scope for more transformative content as well.’
The guide is based on extensive research within the University, which included a survey of both staff and students (over 1000+ respondents), ‘fact-finding conversations’ with staff from a range of professional services departments (including HR, Library Services and Careers Services) as well as staff-student workshops, and in-depth analysis of internal data (such as student applications for admission).
Many of the examples of good practice and case studies included in the guide were as a direct result of the collaborative work, and there were also crucial findings which informed the content and approach of the guide:
“We found that LGBTQ students [at University of Birmingham] were much more likely than their cis/straight counterparts to discontinue their studies and to report poor experiences (such as discrimination and abuse) and that these problems were worse in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) subjects.”
Best practice – but not ‘one size fits all’
Crucially this guidance has been informed by research amongst the University’s own community, and the report’s authors strongly recommend institutions ensure that they tailor their own approach to their local context and challenges, and engage critically with their current practice.
However the accessibility and practicality of this guide should prove a strong foundation for institutions seeking to embed and explore LGBTQ inclusive practice within their own teaching and learning spaces.
Building a culture of LGBTQ support
The University of Birmingham has a number of ongoing initiatives aimed at improving the LGBTQ student experience both inside and outside the classroom including:
- An LGBTQ careers mentoring scheme for students (the university is itself in the top 100 of the Stonewall Workplace Index for LGBTQ friendly employers)
- Specific welcome events on campus for LGBTQ students
- Establishing an international conference on LGBTQ inclusive curricula
Download the Guide
The University of Birmingham’s publication “LGBTQ-inclusivity in the higher education curriculum: a best practice guide” is available for download directly from the University at the following link [links to external site]: https://intranet.birmingham.ac.uk/staff/teaching-academy/documents/public/lgbt-best-practice-guide.pdf
*Please note that ‘LGBTQ’ reflects the chosen acronym in use by the University of Birmingham.