Throughout the years, Worthing College have set a variety of aims to transform the college into a welcoming and diverse community, accepting everyone as equal individuals with their own unique backgrounds and experiences. With the current mission of the college being to ‘inspire, build confidence and prepare you for the life you want to live’, Worthing College have worked consistently to set up the ‘GSA’ in the hope that it can provide a secure platform of support for individuals and encourage every college student to be who they are without fear of judgement, discrimination or isolation within the college environment.
According to research completed by Stonewell.org.uk, it has been found that 45% of LGBT pupils have been bullied in British schools, and despite this figure falling from 65% in 2007, the statistics are still shockingly high considering the more diverse changes that have supposedly taken place in modern-day society. From this statistic alone, it is explicit to the college – who aim for equal treatment among all students and staff – that the LGBT community is still experiencing various judgements as many people still believe in the traditional form of a ‘norm’ relationship, as well as lacking understanding of the individuality arising in society. Through views like this creating a stigma, it is often hard for people to openly talk about sexuality due to fear of judgement, and it is this ongoing fear to express individuality that is the central reason behind the formation of the GSA. With the college believing strongly in equal human rights for all despite aspects such as sexuality, their aim to ‘inspire‘ students to be who they are is the core purpose behind the GSA’s activities, with the college feeling passionately about there being a wider acceptance for the LGBT community.
So, to combat the potential fear and unease felt by some members of the LGBT community – which is increasing over the years – what is the GSA about and what benefits does it bring to students? It was set up in September 2017 and is about creating an open and secure environment at the college for individuals inside the LGBT community and is designed to be a friendly place to be for the seven students currently part of the group (who meet every Thursday). As well as creating this fun environment, the GSA also works in increasing confidence within students, which may have been lacking previously, and works on promoting the club to inspire other students to join such a supportive foundation. Through providing not only a vital communications link between students who are a part of or supporting the LGBT community, the GSA also aims to help individuals express who they are, with the members currently working on a poster to promote the benefits the GSA brings to them. Through all the activities and opportunities on offer to members, the GSA aspires to teach students that it is perfectly acceptable to express and celebrate individuality among society and attempts to provide them with such a stable support base that students no longer fear judgement when talking about subjects such as being part of the LGBT community – as they may have done in the past – and hopes to increase the confidence of students in the group or who would like to join.
With the GSA evolving its status within the college, it is also essential to consider the wider benefits clubs like these contribute to society on a wider scale geographically. With 72 countries still having same-sex relationships being considered a criminal act, it is important to understand the variety of challenges that members around the world face in the LGBT community, and how fantastic support bases – like the GSA – can reduce the negativity faced by people of different genders and sexuality. It is becoming an on-going issue that many individuals are still being mistreated due to their sexuality, especially among older generations within the workplace. Within the last five years, one in five lesbian, gay or bi employees have experienced verbal bullying from colleagues and customers solely because of their sexuality, and despite sometimes expressing judgements involuntarily, it is essential that this is reduced for the sake of individual well-being in the diverse society that is forming today. Through not only having various support groups in society for the LGBT community – many of which are based on social media – new laws such as the Equality Act of 2010 have also been issued solely to protect individuals from discrimination in the workplace and promote the equality in which society is striving towards achieving. The many efforts and support policies in place across Britain and worldwide, society is being granted the power to openly welcome diversity, which is having a positive effect on individuals and the way in which they are feeling increasingly positive about expressing their individuality.
So, what can you do to support the GSA and its chances of further success in allowing Worthing College to consistently maintain the strong sense of diversity currently in place? You can show support for the GSA by supporting its members and attending if it is something you wish to take part in; the club is welcoming for all people, even those who aren’t part of the LGBT community. You can positively show an accepting attitude around the college to all fellow students, treating everyone equally despite sexuality, gender, race and so on. You can help the college maintain its positive reputation for diversity by showing gratitude for the college and its endless aims in supporting individuals on a variety of topics, including projects like the GSA which were specifically set up to provide a support base for individuals. Finally, you can participate in maintaining the friendly environment the college aims to be by showing respect for fellow students and staff members, encouraging individuality and dismissing judgements that lack understanding; three contributions that the GSA make to the college on a weekly basis.