Sandy James, School of Chemistry, Faculty of Maths and Physical Sciences

Why do you think it’s important to have LGBT allies?
Whilst only LGBT people can make us aware of the problems they face, it is up to everyone to consider how they treat others and ensure that their actions are not guided by negative stereotypes. As an ally I try to open the discussion around LGBT and other issues of prejudice whenever appropriate and encourage equality of thought and action in myself and others.

What difference can you make as an LGBT ally?
Encourage others to actively pursue equality and diversity in the workplace. Spread awareness and understanding of the valuable LGBT community which exists already. Support LGBT colleagues by providing an open and inclusive environment and listening to their feedback when they feel the need to give it.

What advice would you give to LGBT staff or students who may be facing difficulties as a result of their sexuality?
I know from personal experience that the University staff counselling service and student counselling services are accessible, professional and hugely supportive. As an ally I would seek to sympathise, but without the personal experience I would not presume to empathise.

What can we all do to make the University of Leeds a better place for LGBT staff and students?
Continue to build strong support networks and create a positive and supportive working environment where people feel no barrier to expressing themselves according to their own identity. In my experience the University is an exemplary employer, but we can all seek to improve our response to prejudice in all areas of our lives.