From Global Pride to Local Support – Dr Gemma Mann

Dr Gemma Mann

This Saturday 27 June 2020 is Global Pride – giving the whole world a chance to join together to support lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, intersex and people with other diverse genders and sexualities (LGBTI+). This also gives us a chance to reflect on the support offered at CQUniversity.

Dr Gemma Mann (pictured above) coordinates the CQUniversity Ally Program, and shares her journey, and how CQU is supporting the community.

Why do LGBTI+ people need support?

I’m now an ‘out and proud’ gay woman, but it was’t always the case.  I had a bad experience at school, and was in a very dark place heading to university. 

Seeing the Ally Program posters around campus and hearing about the student network made me feel so much safer and included. 

My bad experience was not an isolated incident.  In fact, 35% of lesbian, gay and bisexual people have had suicidal thoughts in their lifetime compared to 13% of heterosexuals, and 12% had been homeless compared to 3% respectively.  A devastating 87% of transgender people have experienced stigma or discrimination on the basis of their gender identity.  There is also evidence that shows that discrimination is higher in regional and remote areas of Australia.

What is CQUniversity doing?

Since 2011, CQUniversity has had the Ally Program.  The main aims of the program are 1, to support students as a listening ear and referral to appropriate services; 2, to be a visual presence that CQUniversity is an inclusive and diverse environment where it is safe to be yourself; and 3, to help combat homophobia, transphobia etc by standing up to, or reporting discrimination.  We try to run 2 events a year (including IDAHOBIT and Wear It Purple) and invite people to be involved by sharing photos with messages of support. 

CQU Pride 2
CQUniversity Ally Program at CQ Fair Day in Rockhampton.

What is an Ally?

An Ally is simply any person who is informed about, is sensitive toward and has an understanding of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, and Intersex (LGBTI) people and their issues. An Ally supports the experience and rights of LGBTI persons and encourages tolerance in a variety of ways including by individual example and personal awareness. Allies are not identified as being either heterosexual or LGBTI but are representative of the entire CQUniversity community.

Connection and inclusion

Ashley Robina
Indigenous Student Support Officers Ashley Gray and Robina Pearson on International Day against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia (IDAHOBIT)

Events like Global Pride are fantastic for highlighting the bigger picture issues around the world, especially as some countries still have the death penalty for homosexual acts.  Locally, however, what we do is to foster connection and inclusion. 

There is nothing more powerful than seeing rainbows, pride flags and posters, and seeing inclusion embedded in university policy to help you know that you are a valued member of CQUniversity, whether students, staff, or community. 

– Dr Gemma Mann, CQUniversity Ally Program

Everyone can be involved and become knowledgeable on how to spread the message of inclusiveness. 

Watch Global Pride 2020 here, and stay tuned to CQUniversity Student Communications for Ally Program events and opportunities.

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