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Coming Out Day 11 October

11 October 2021

Today is Coming Out Day. To support the idea that everyone should feel free and safe to be the person they are, the University has raised the rainbow flag at the University buildings. At the Broerplein, in front of the Academy Building, this was officially done by Professor Gerry Wakker and student Ivi Kussmaul. We want to support and ally with our student and staff LGBTQIA+ community.

Gerry Wakker, Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer: ‘Opening up, coming out, and sharing your experiences may create understanding, enhance awareness, and help you to be yourself. This personal story inspired me and I would like to share it with you: Why I shared my experiences of homophobia with my academic colleagues.’

Ivi Kussmaul, a queer student who worked on the diversity and inclusion policy as a member of the University Council last year and is also a steering committee member of the Groningen Feminist Network: ‘These are the very first days of the new diversity and inclusion policy coming into action. I hope that the coming months and years will bring a lot of meaningful changes for the LGBTQIA+ community at the University and the city in general.’

Gerry Wakker and Ivy Kussmail raise the pride flag in front of the Academy Building
Gerry Wakker and Ivy Kussmail raise the pride flag in front of the Academy Building

Coming Out Day

Coming Out Day is an annual LGBTQIA+ awareness day observed on 11 October, to support members of the LGBTQIA+ community who want to ‘come out of the closet’. The first Coming Out Day was held in 1988 to mark the one-year anniversary of the 1987 March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights. Coming Out Day is a reminder that coming out isn't just a one-time event – in a heteronormative world, one needs to come out to almost every new person one meets. The never-ending process of ‘coming out’ can be exhausting, and it helps to have allies and receive support; to know that you are not alone.

Diversity and Inclusion at the UG

The UG is a learning organization, also in the field of diversity and inclusion. We foster a zero tolerance policy concerning undesirable behaviour, but we know that this does not prevent all discrimination from happening at the University. It is important that we listen to each other, learn from each other, and make sure to respond adequately when we hear of discriminatory treatment. Leaders are responsible for maintaining an inclusive community, and staff and students should engage and learn from each other. That is why we are working hard to establish a well-functioning D&I office, together with a diverse advisory committee, various working groups, and with the close involvement of the University Council and the University community as a whole.

We realize that there is still work to do in an ongoing process of improvement. In an open dialogue between staff and students, and by implementing existing and new policy, we must and can take steps towards maintaining a safe environment in which everyone can feel at home and receive equal opportunities. We will only be able to take small steps at a time, but we are determined to take them.

A University-wide working group for and by the LGBTQIA+ community will soon be established, which will advise the D&I office. We will keep you all updated and are looking forward to receiving input from the entire LGBTQIA+ community at the UG.

It is very important that students and staff do and continue to report their negative experiences. This can be done via the Confidential Advisor. If you experience mental health problems relating to your sexual or gender identity, you can also seek help from the student psychologists. For those looking for LGBTQIA+ community and support networks in Groningen, you can check out Ganymedes, the Groningen Feminist Network, and Queer Pride Groningen.

Last modified:11 October 2021 3.05 p.m.
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