Tim Dudding, Head of Football/Technical Director at Moulton College describes his experiences as a gay tutor working at the College.
I have been fortunate enough to work in a number of sporting environments, from professional football clubs to community foundations, to working with elite athletes on a 1 to 1 basis. Throughout all of my workplace environments to date, I have regularly struggled with what it means to identify as a gay man within sport promoting inclusion, equality and diversity within my practice. Since working at Moulton, I have been surrounded by some truly inspirational people who have helped me to discover this, and I am now thrilled to be in a position to share some of my insights into how to make a workplace LGBT-inclusive, and what that can mean to LGBT staff and allies.
The environment created at Moulton within the past 2 years have been brilliant, and I have loved seeing so many people come together to learn and share ways to make our workplace more accepting for LGBT people. It’s great to know that Moulton are so committed to creating an inclusive workplace, helping their staff and students in understanding the huge benefits of investing in diversity and inclusion.
For me personally, the biggest step to being truly inclusive is to be genuine. Your attempt to invest into a more inclusive working environment has to be built upon the desire to help others and as a result, learn to see the world from their perspective. From my experiences with the staff and students of Moulton College, here are some top tips for how to make the workplace more LGBT inclusive:
Discuss the problem
LGBT people still face discrimination in many areas of their everyday life. Most recent research shows that over a third of LGBT staff (35%) have hidden that they are LGBT at work for fear of discrimination. Colleagues at Moulton took the time to discuss with me the issues I had faced in previous employment and set about ensuring I was valued in my role for who I was. A good starting place to finding out how you can help is learning more about what your LGBT colleagues past experiences, as well as what they might be going through.
Celebrate diversity through various campaigns
Everyone can benefit from learning about new things at work and, being a college, education is central to everything we do. An LGBT event can be a great way to engage people in inclusion and help them understand more. Within the sports and marketing departments at Moulton, we have supported numerous campaigns over the past two years. The Rainbow Laces campaign was received brilliantly by both staff and students and proved to be a simple yet effective way of starting conversations about LGBT inclusion in sport and wider society. It empowered me to be confident in who I am, and helps to break down barriers and stereotypes that are still rife within sport communities.
Be PROUD about your commitment to inclusion
Moulton College has made a real difference to me in the way in which staff regularly, and visibly, signal that they are an ally and that there is a wider college endeavour to be inclusive. This has ranged from wearing a rainbow related garment (I have a pin-badge on my lanyard!), putting pronouns in email signatures and sending emails marketing inclusive practice in the wider college (and sport) sector. For LGBT staff and students, these minor token gestures make a real difference in informing people that they are safe, valued and respected. During my time at Moulton College, staff have made a real effort in entertaining the conversations that these token gestures provoke. They have allowed people to share in generating conversations and challenging others – another reason why it’s so important to have taken the time to learn about the issues.
Policy into practice!
Throughout my time settling in at Moulton College, I was comforted to see strong and inclusive policies at play, allowing me to feel safe and supported in my workplace. The staff team around me have enabled some key discussions with SLT and the wider college community to look at explicitly referencing homophobic, biphobic and transphobic behaviour within disciplinary policy, providing a signposting mechanism for LGBT people to report their concerns to someone they trust. Policies have been discussed at length at both a department and college wide level to include accommodation for include same-sex parents/families and those who identify as trans.
Get staff involved – the more the merrier!!
My journey at Moulton College as an LGBT member of staff has only been what it is because of the incredibly talented, wonderfully supportive and honestly caring people that exist within the staff body. Whilst I appreciate that inclusion within education and sport relies on buy-in from senior leaders and HR, it’s important to remember that everyone within a college community has a role to play. I have had so many conversations (formally and in-formally) with people regarding what matters to me, but also why it should matter to everyone at Moulton – and how it aligns with our Colleges values as an organisation.
My experiences at Moulton have been so fantastic because everyone I see and speak to is determined to get this right. There have been discussions on the importance of using language around identities, and how we can make ourselves visible allies for the LGBT community both as staff and students. For me, what really stands out at Moulton is how passionate we are in attempting bring real change to our college community and in turn, wider society.
We have a long way to go. Even this month there have been a lot of difficult headlines for the LGBT community. We’ve heard homophobic comments regarding campaigns designed to promote inclusivity, a continuing divisive debate on trans rights and protests about whether it’s appropriate for primary school children to learn about families with two mums or two dads. We’ve seen new research about difficulties that LGBT people face in education, and we’ve seen horrible attacks on LGBT people online, simply for being who they are. At Moulton I feel we are looking to push further towards equality; in our classrooms, on the football pitch, in staff meetings and in student pastoral sessions. We recognise we play a huge role in helping this fight, both by making sure that their LGBT staff feel empowered to be themselves (as I now do!), and by helping to campaign for equality.
For further information and advice about inclusive workplaces, visit stonewall.org.uk