18 Aug 2021

Wear it purple - start the LGBTIQA+conversation: 27 August

Image: Wear it purple

by Drs Zhoujie Ding, Jess Borger

On 27 August 2021 the Central Clinical School's Gender Equity Diversity and Inclusion (CCS GEDI) committee are asking you to ‘Wear it Purple”.

Wear it Purple Day aims to drive awareness of rainbow young people in Schools, Universities and Youth Alliances, and assist these organisations in creating inclusive experiences and environments. 

Advocacy, raising awareness and providing a supportive and safe environment is particularly important in academia, where there are still many Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) challenges experienced by researchers and educators who identify as LGBTIQA+.

In all workplaces, feeling unable to share your full identity to your peers and colleagues is both isolating and exhausting. This insecurity can directly impact your career in regard to building collaborations and invaluable networks. In academia for example, it could mean that you are less inclined to participate in conferences, worrying that you will not “fit in” at social occasions or experience anti-LGBT bias when networking for potential collaborators.

Science is meant to be “neutral” and “objective”, especially in regard to publication, grant, promotion and peer review processes. To avoid discrimination, many LGBTIQA+ academics actively work to separate their identity from their work to ensure they are not given a D&I “tag”, creating unconscious bias, impacting their career trajectories.

Although in academia the LGBTIQA+ community is respected, and has increasing support from various affiliated committees, very few people come out. “Don’t ask, don’t tell” seems to be a golden rule. However, this 'rule' doesn’t help. It only generates more mental stress among LGBTIQA+ scientists.

How can you help at the CCS? 

Start the conversation, ask what is needed to support LGBTIQA+ people in academia, and make more LGBTIQA+ scientists visible.

See examples of actions to help with starting the conversation and increasing the visibility of LGBTIQA+ scientists:

  • Create opportunities to share Personal Gender Pronouns at the beginning of class, meetings, or journal club; and when students, peers, or colleagues share their pronouns with you, make sure you use them. Common pronouns include: She/her/hers, He/him/his, They/them/theirs
  • Listen to people with different experience than you – be ready to be uncomfortable but also be ready to ask how you can best support them.
  • Wear a rainbow lanyard to show support of LGBTIQA+ scientists – email ccs.gedi@monash.edu to pick yours up
  • Make yourself aware of how your language can be interpreted in the workplace – please refer to the CCS LGBTIQA+ glossary on the CCS GEDI website
  • Contribute to the GEDI IDAHOBIT lived experiences survey to help the GEDI committee and the CCS Executive understand your experiences in academia and how we can support you
  • Join the Monash University Ally Network
  • Student support: https://www.monash.edu/students/support/lgbtiq
  • Use the hashtag #WearItPurple on social media and follow the @WearitPurple Twitter account

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