Universities have recently come under pressure as students call for separate accommodation for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) undergraduates to avoid being victimised.
At present, Birmingham University is the only institution that offers an ‘LGBT housing option’ for first year’s who would prefer not to live with straight students. This prompted some students across the UK to campaign for the same rights.
As Director of a large student accommodation website, Accommodationforstudents.com, I believe this would be a backwards move which could actually risk polarising the LGBT community.
Segregation is not the answer. On the one hand, it can be argued that segregation already exists in other forms at university, such as large purpose built student accommodation blocks which house only international students. However, several decades ago, people campaigned for gay rights because they wanted greater integration and equality, not separatism. This would be like going backwards not forwards, and if you provide segregation for one minority group, where does that stop? Does it not open the floodgates to provide the same for others who feel victimised for their individuality?
Those who feel victimised should absolutely have the right to speak out, but ‘issue handling’ should be where the investment is made through LGBT university welfare officers
Meeting people from all cultures, ethnicities, religions, backgrounds, and with different sexual orientations is all part of the university learning experience and university is designed to prepare you for the ‘real world’.
The world of work is full of men and woman, straight, gay and everything in-between who have to work harmoniously alongside one another. To separate students does not help create acceptance and understanding or solve any problems – it could potentially have the adverse effect. Segregation will only lead to more victimisation.
I also believe this is the view of a very small minority. Those who feel victimised should absolutely have the right to speak out, but ‘issue handling’ should be where the investment is made through LGBT university welfare officers. It would be better to raise awareness of the issues that LGBT students face and give greater power to impose stricter controls to stop the offenders who damage the university living experience of others.
Simon Thompson is Director of UK student accommodation website www.accommodationforstudents.com (AFS)