The piece on LGBT staff in academia was interesting, and it is certainly good that people of all sexualities and gender identities are welcomed into academia, but it is a bit concerning how obsessed with their sexuality or gender identity some people are (“How welcoming is academia to LGBT staff?”, Features, 5 May).
I realise that the commentators have been asked to talk about their experiences, but is it really that important when what we are all here to do is push the boundaries of knowledge and teach students? It’s about as relevant as my passion for the study of medals. It doesn’t matter what gender I am, or who I wish to invite into my bed. All the disabled toilets are gender-neutral, I don’t see why it’s so difficult to make the able-bodied ones the same, and knowing which bathroom to go into is the one time on campus that I ever think about which gender I am. I am perfectly comfortable with whoever my colleagues (or students) decide they are, but I’ll stick to the computer science (yes, I’m another female computer scientist as it happens) and be content that as the computer doesn’t care if you are gay or straight, man or woman, neither do I.
The difference between being LGBT and having, say, a passion for medals is that the latter was never illegal. No one was discriminated against because of it. Medal lovers don’t face abuse and stigmatisation. It is a bit much to suggest that people who have faced, and still face, all these things are “obsessed” by it when they discuss their experiences and argue for change. Consider the problems faced by other groups – including, say, ethnic minorities. It is wonderful if m.robertson doesn’t care which ethnicity people are, any more than she cares about their sexual orientation, but it is entirely helpful for people in those groups to share their experiences and debate how things can be improved.
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