D&I week has ended but today the UG is still flying the rainbow flag, because it is National Coming Out Day. With this, the UG wants to emphasize that everyone should feel free and safe to be the person they are. We want to support and ally with our student and staff LGBTQIA+ community.
To support Coming Out Day, LGBTQ+ student association Ganymedes is once more organizing #050hangdevlaguit. For this project they ask student organizations to take a picture with the rainbow flag to underline that everyone should be welcome in Groningen, regardless of orientation or gender identity. Rector Magnificus Ciska Wijmenga, Vice President of the Board of the University Hans Biemans and Student Assessor Dewi Koster therefore took a picture with the rainbow flag.
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.
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.
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.
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