Wales' pink dragon

November 4, 2005

Cardiff has claimed the crown as Wales' number one pink university, writes Jessica Shepherd.

The university is so eager to discuss sexual orientation in the workplace that it has become the first member of a gay rights forum for employers.

The institution even joined a fortnight early: the forum, Stonewall Diversity Champions Cymru, does not officially launch until November 14.

The network will help Cardiff to improve the work life of gay academics and better address their needs.

Teresa Rees, pro vice-chancellor of Cardiff, said: "We want to ensure that Cardiff University is the first choice for lesbian, gay and bisexual staff and students.

"Employers will be able to develop and share best practice to create safe and culturally diverse workplaces where all students and staff can thrive."

Alison Parken, director of Stonewall Cymru, told The Times Higher that gay academics were often pigeonholed as gay spokespeople by their universities.

She said: "Often lesbian, gay and bisexual academics are the only ones to write about gay issues. They are ghettoised as the "gay spokesperson". In fact, gay issues are likely to be just one of many things they are expert in.

"Not enough research has been done to show how universities compare with other workplaces for gays, lesbians and bisexuals.

"But we would say that we need to tackle homophobic bullying in universities and remind institutions that gays, lesbians and bisexuals may have specific housing and counselling needs. Cardiff's decision to join the forum is a huge step forward for Wales."

The forum has an equivalent in England with 130 members, only three of which are higher education institutions: Imperial College London, Anglia Ruskin University and the Royal College of Nursing.

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