Every year, NUI Galway staff and students promote the visibility and inclusion of the LGBT+ community through Rainbow Week – a celebratory week of events organised by the college’s LGBT+ student society, GigSoc – but a range of new initiatives have made this year’s celebrations a particular triumph.
Last Wednesday, as part of Rainbow Week, GigSoc held the first Pride March through NUI Galway campus. The parade, attended by a large crowd of students and staff, began at the Alice Perry Engineering Building and made its way to the Bailey Allen Hall, where a gathering was held and speeches made.
“We are incredibly happy with the turnout today,” said Oissine Moore, the co-auditor of GigSoc. Moore was especially grateful for the presence of staff at this student-run event, and added, “It’s amazing to see staff getting involved in the Pride March as it makes people feel that little bit safer knowing that staff are willing to march with us and support us.”
Rainbow Week also provided the NUI Galway LGBT+ Staff Network with an opportunity to launch its LGBT+ Ally Programme, a member-based initiative encouraging staff to express their support for LGBT+ colleagues and students. Staff who sign up to be allies are provided with resources and visible symbols of their support for the LGBT+ community.
Dr Chris Noone, a lecturer at the School of Psychology and Chair of the NUI Galway LGBT+ Staff Network, said: “The LGBT+ Ally Programme makes visible the support that exists at NUI Galway for students and staff who are members of the LGBT+ community. It shows that this is a welcoming place for people of all sexual and gender identities and that there is a community to connect with on our campus.”
As well as organising their college’s first Pride March, GigSoc marked the occasion with the publication of its first book. The Queer Book is an anthology of writing, artwork and photography made by and for the queer community, whose launch raised over €430 for Teach Solais LGBT+ Resource Centre.
GigSoc has also recently launched the ‘T fund,’ sponsored by the Office of the Vice-President for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion. This project recognises the extra financial burden faced by transgender and non-binary students by providing funding to students of NUI Galway for financial costs related to social transition – covering, for instance, the costs of deed polls, gender-affirming clothing or accessories, makeup and binders.
These moves by NUI Galway continue a wave of support for LGBT+ students and college staff seen around the country – universities such as University College Cork have also recently launched allies schemes and other supportive measures. With LGBT+ students in many of Ireland’s schools and colleges still stigmatised and uncomfortable in their environments, it’s to be hoped that our less inclusive places of education will follow these inspiring examples.
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