Rainbow@ncl is a newly-established staff and PGR network, which aims to challenge heteronormativity, support LGBT+ staff and students, and promote inclusion of people of diverse genders, sexualities, and relationships.

Today (28th September) 12-2pm, they are having a celebratory launch event in the Reception Rooms of the Armstrong Building. If you would like to come along, please register here.

To find out a little bit more about Rainbow@ncl ahead of their launch event, I spoke to Dr Gareth Longstaff, a lecturer in Media and Culture Studies and the Chair of Rainbow@ncl.

Why did you decide to start the network?

Before the inception of Rainbow@ncl, there had been an informal, socially-focused LGBT+ staff network called Mosaic. About a year ago, Kate Chedgzoy (EDI lead in HaSS) and I met with the hope of forming something new that was still a support network, but was also able to feed into broader issues across the University and within Higher Education.

The first scoping event happened the week after Induction Week in 2017, and since then we’ve made a huge amount of progress in forming a steering group and setting up the network.

What do you think the network means to its members?

I believe Rainbow@ncl means a great deal to its members. It provides staff with a strong support network at work, and, for many, it provides the first opportunity they’ve had to meet with likeminded people in an open, inclusive space to discuss the issues they’re facing. It lets people know that their thoughts and feelings are valid, and that they are understood by others.

The network is intended to be inclusive to all staff who identify as LGBT+, regardless of their background or position within the University. Everything we do is decided collectively, even down to small details such as the timings and locations of events. We hope to make the network even more diverse than it already is, and to focus on intersectionality and work with other EDI networks across the University.

Where you might see the network going in the future?

We feel as though we’ve never had as much institutional support as we do at the moment, so it’s really important for us to keep up this momentum and make ourselves a visible, sustainable and embedded presence within the University.

We are working to increase our prominence, through initiatives such as the distribution of over 2000 lanyards, raising the LGBT+ flag at key points of the year, developing a front facing webpage for the Network, as well as by working with other networks, such as NU Women and BAME, to promote intersectionality. We want everyone in the University to have a sense of what we do, by embedding ourselves into the culture, politics and policy of the University, whilst still retaining our autonomy as a network.

We also hope to work as a critical ally to senior management groups, to affect policy development, such as Trans policy and gender neutrality in documentation. We also want to ensure policy is consistently reviewed to make it as transparent and inclusive as possible.

If you’d like to find out more about Rainbow@ncl and how to get involved, come along to their launch event 12-2pm today (28th September). Alternatively, click here to read more about them.