LGBT Officer Candidates

The LGBT Officer is responsible for representing all students who self define themselves lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer, questioning, asexual and/or unsure/undecided or anyone who self-defines as experiencing homophobia, biphobia and/or transphobia for not fitting into heteronormative society. The Officer leads a delegation on behalf of the Students’ Union to the NUS LGBT Conference, and works with the Union to improve the student experience of LGBT students. The LGBT Officer also chairs the LGBT Students’ Network.

Abi Alcock

Abi Alcock credits the LGBT network with “having made [her] university experience” thus far. She has been Campaigns Officer for the LGBT Network since September. During this time she has run campaigns for World AIDS day, proposed motions to the SU council, and begun preparing an LGBT awareness campaign for the end of the year. If elected representative, she would bring experience from her medically based degree to campaign for LGBT health awareness, including the training of staff at Cripps Medical Centre. She would also set up a website to link the LGBT network in university with the equivalent in the city. Alcock’s passion for the LGBT network is undisputable, and her health prerogatives admirable, however, the feasibility of such plans will hopefully be addressed further during her campaign.

Elliott Reed

Elliott has the credentials of being LGBT Social Secretary as well as having experience in budgeting and admin. He also has Welfare Training from the Nottinghamshire Rainbow Heritage and has supported issues such as the ‘Donation not Discrimination’ campaign at SU council. Elliott explained: “LGBT helped me personally when I first arrived at University, so now I want to give something back and help future and current students”. He would like to conduct a survey to discover what people want from the network and to see why more people do not join. Elliott also believes that campus halls are particular problem areas that need to be tackled: “Homophobic chants are banned but this isn’t enforced. Staff should be given better training on the issues affecting LGBT students and students need to know where to go if they do encounter discrimination”. He pledged to do more in publicising key issues year round and ensure that a high standard in all LGBT campaigns, welfare provisions and social events is maintained.

Christobel Burns

Burns’ first priority is to improve the welfare of LGBT students. One initiative that she hopes will achieve this is her plan to reintroduce Gayline, “It used to exist at this University” she told Impact, “Essentially it’s a system run jointly between LGBT and Nightline to provide support to LGBT students”. She went on to reason, “Nightline is not necessarily trained on LGBT issues, so the network could have a lot more input into this, as they know what is relevant for LGBT students”
Also important to Burns is improved feedback from LGBT students about how the network serves them. At the moment, she admits, “[the LGBT committee] does not have a lot [of feedback]”. By means of surveys and more open committee meetings she hopes to achieve this. “It is really important for everyone to have a say in how the network is run”

Images by Helen Miller

13 Comments on this post.
  • Frank
    6 March 2011 at 21:42
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    I was just wondering what the point of Gayline is? Nightline is for everyone and I believe they receive training on LGBT issues. I don’t see how a gay-exclusive phone line is in any way beneficial?

  • Anon
    7 March 2011 at 00:51
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    I’m gay and I once wanted to call Nightline because my boyfriend had just broken up with me. I ended up just asking for a pizza number because I didn’t feel like I could speak to the male volunteer who answered. If there was a specific LGBT helpline, run by Nightline or otherwise, I’d have obviously called that.

    It’s all about the caller’s perception of the service they’re calling.

    Christobel certainly has my vote.

  • Christobel Burns
    7 March 2011 at 01:23
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    I agree that Nightline is a great service for all students, LGBT or not, but I do think a lot of students would find Gayline to be a useful service.
    Gayline would be part of Nightline. Gayline volunteers would be fully trained members of Nightline, but with additional training, organised by the LGBT network.
    I think some LGBT students would feel more comfortable calling somebody they know is trained on the issues that are relevant to them. Even just knowing Gayline is there could be reassuring.
    I’d really love the opportunity to get this service up and running for students, but I can only do that if I’m elected!

    I hope that answered your question. If not, feel free to contact me about this, or any of my other policies 🙂 x

  • Frank
    7 March 2011 at 09:41
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    I would simply argue that all Nightline members should be trained on LGBT issues, the same as any other issue. What about the issues black, ginger, one legged people face? There aren’t dedicated services for every possible ‘issue’….

  • Anon
    7 March 2011 at 10:11
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    Okay, say you’ve been the victim of a homophobic attack, verbal or otherwise, you ring a helpline staffed by non-LGBT volunteers, are you going to want to speak to them? No.

    Are you going to want to speak to people who you KNOW are LGBT themselves, not just trained on LGBT issues? Yes.

    Gayline is one of the best ideas I’ve heard this year.

  • Dave Jackson
    7 March 2011 at 11:41
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    I’d be interested to know why Gayline was abandoned before – was it because of a lack of interest in running it, a lack of interest from students in calling it or just because of budget, for example?

    Out of genuine interest, are all LGBT ‘issues’ the same? Do transgender students face similar concerns at university to gay students, for example. If we’re saying that a gay student may feel uncomfortable speaking to a hetero student, might a transgender student feel uncomfortable talking to a student who isn’t transgender? Especially as the union is saying that transgender students need entirely seperate toilets on campus, such is the level of discrimination that takes place.

    I think nightline provides a great service, and their training should definitely factor in issues that many different groups face, whether it’s orientation, creed or colour (I’m sure it already does). Just as long as there isn’t an infinite regress of different specialisations (and backgrounds) that people need to have in order to take a call. Surely what nightline already shows us is that the background of the person taking the call is less relevant than their ability to listen?

  • Ova
    7 March 2011 at 17:30
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    I’d like to know how Elliott plans to survey LGBT students that haven’t joined the network. How is that feasible, since they’re not part of the LGBT and there’s no way of identifying who they are, and conducting a survey of the whole university would be costly, and there’s no guarantee that the students (who are not motivated enough to join the free LGBT in the first place) would even respond to the questionairre?

  • Christobel Burns
    7 March 2011 at 18:06
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    I think a lot of LGBT students have the added issue of wanting to stay anonymous. A lot of students aren’t out about their sexuality, and this can be a barrier to them getting involved in the LGBT network. This is why I think an anonymous service is particularly important for this group of students. I feel that it’s important to provide support for every LGBT student, not just the ones that feel comfortable enough to come to LGBT events.
    Of course it’s important that Nightline volunteers are able to deal with any kind of call, whether the caller defines as LGBT or not, but I think LGBT students would feel more comfortable, and would be more likely to call Gayline.

    There are an infinite reasons why a student would want to call Gayline, so I definitely wouldn’t say all LGBT issues are the same. However, in answer to Dave’s question, I do feel that trans students would feel more comfortable calling a volunteer trained on LGBT issues. I think trans awareness is a big issue at our university, and in general society. This is definitely something I’d look at next year, by running trans awareness workshops and campaigns. Until there is no homophobia, biphobia or transphobia present in our society I feel it’s the LGBT Officer’s duty to ensure there is support provided for EVERY student who defines as LGBT, and Gayline seems like an excellent way to reach out to them.

    I’d also like to point out that the union isn’t asking for completely separate toilets for trans students. A motion was passed to say that the union supports having gender neutral toilets on campus. This wouldn’t involve the building of any new toilets in existing buildings. It would involve changing the signs on the toilets that are a single room , not a row of cubicles. These gender neutral toilets could be used by all students, not just trans students.


  • Christobel Burns
    7 March 2011 at 18:08
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    That should have said ‘an infinite number of reasons’ … xx

  • Frank
    8 March 2011 at 01:56
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    I have been a victim of a homophobic attack, being LGBT and all…

  • Elliott Reed
    8 March 2011 at 20:04
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    The survey would be conducted on ALL students anonymously, asking them if they define as LGBT before asking them what they want from the LGBT Network. This would be highly beneficial considering less than 1% of the student population are members of the LGBT Network, which is very low considering the number of LGBT students who must be studying here. It would also identify problems such as students not knowing we exist, and we can endeavour to improve.


  • Ova
    8 March 2011 at 21:02
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    I don’t think your answer addressed the issues I raised in my initial post- a paper questionairre to all the students in the university would be extremely costly, and an emailed questionairre would be very easy to ignore – how would you hope to encourage responses when, as I stated earlier, the individuals you’re trying to communicate with aren’t motivated enough to join the LGBT, which is both free, and can be quickly done with a few clicks online?

    The best case scenario is slightly raising awareness of the existence of the LGBT amongst all students, which surely should be a common-sense part of the position any of the candidates must perform, and not a policy to attempt to gain votes from?

  • Elliott Reed
    9 March 2011 at 00:46
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    Apologies. I realise I didn’t actually address the issue and went off on a tangent.

    Surveys like this have been carried out before – an example being the Homophobia Survey in 2009, which received an overwhelming response.

    The point of the surveys is not to raise awareness of the LGBT Network (although it would as a by-product), but to ascertain what students want from that LGBT Network, which is paramount in my opinion – a network should be giving students what they want/need, and since such a small percentage of the student population use the LGBT Network, I would argue that maybe there are more things that can be done to achieve this.

    My policies are not simply an ‘attempt to gain votes’ – they represent what I personally think is important to the network.

    I hope this answers your question more clearly.

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