The University of Aberdeen aims to provide a safe and welcoming environment. We support LGBTQ+ students and staff with assistance on and off campus, and celebrate sexual and gender diversity on campus.
- Equality and Diversity
For further information and support relating to Gender and other Equality and Diversity related matters, students can contact The Student Liberation Forums.
University Gender Action Plan
Setting out the University of Aberdeen’s commitment to the principles of equality and diversity, the Gender Action Plan (GAP) demonstrates the University’s pledge to fulfilling the requirements set by the Scottish Funding Council (SFC) in demonstrating the University’s ambitions in embedding gender equality and tackling gender imbalance through policy and practice. Actions are focused across the University as a whole, as well as early years education and supporting graduates. Whilst the plan is applicable to all, there is a specific subject focus on Psychology, Education, Physics and Computer Science. These four subjects were identified and selected as they are dominated by more than 75% of one gender in each subject. It is one of the aims set by the Scottish Funding Council to reduce the gender split in individual subjects, as well as overall, by 2030. The SFC have stated that their goal is that by 2030 47.5 % of all undergraduate students will be male. The University is committed to decrease the disparity by 1 % each year in the prioritised subjects and work towards achieving more of a gender balance across the whole student population.
The University also strives towards a safer and more diverse campus, allowing staff and students to focus on their work and studies rather than worry about harassment or oppression, creating a safe space to flourish and grow as a person while at University. To accomplish this it requires that students and staff members show each other respect. To show respect is to show acceptance towards others in the way you talk, act and behave. It also means that one does not judge or assume things about others. Treat others the way you want to be treated. Speak up when somebody says offensive things or discriminates against others. Treat others on an equal basis, and ensure equality.
To get you off to a good start, here are a few recommendations to help you when engaging with others during lectures, seminars and social events:
- Listen without interruption
- Accept differences in opinion unless racist, sexist etc
- Don’t show prejudice towards or refuse to accept certain people because of their race gender, sexuality or disability
- Accept that you may not be perfect, and to listen when called out
- Stand up and speak out for people if you have privilege(s) they don’t have
- Always ask for and receive consent
- Don’t assume that everyone is the same as you
And when you meet new people:
- Ask questions about them to avoid any assumptions, but be aware that some students may not wish to disclose information relating to equality groups
- Use gender neutral pronouns until you know what a person’s pronoun is. For instance, you might assume a person is a woman, but when you ask for their pronoun it’s “they”, and you learn they’re non-binary
- Ask questions about the things and identities people find important about themselves. It could be that they come from Norway, but have one parent from Thailand, that they’re gay, and that they love football
- Use the pronoun and sexuality terminology someone provides you with. Be aware that it might also change over time
- Acknowledge the differences in levels of bias and assumptions different people face
- Assumptions and stereotypes are harmful, and are rarely true
Equality and Diversity
Gender equality and diversity is about trying to even the playing field and ensuring that all students have the opportunity to reach their goals at university. People can’t control if they’re male, female, transgender, gay, straight or bi and these factors should not limit the success of any person. To study and work at the University is to lay a foundation that enables students to excel in their studies and career. It requires a safe environment for everybody. Harassment, discrimination and bias doesn’t have a place on campus.
Most people aren’t biased or discriminatory on purpose. It’s easy to assume that others are just like yourself, and that people will have the same experience and opinions as you. You may not know the gender of your fellow students, or whether they identify with any of the other equality groups so it’s important you behave and engage in a way that respects everyone. You can personally help to make the University an equal, diverse and safe place for everybody.
The University aims to limit the effect inequality has on education and its student and staff members. It is important that no one is treated less well because of who they are. Unconscious bias (where our unconscious mind makes automatic and quick judgements) and stereotyping can unfortunately add to inequality and there are certain groups affected more by this, including women, LGBTQ+ people, people of colour, and people with disabilities. Some people are a part of more than one of these groups and can at times face different forms of discrimination than the others, or it can be layered. Keeping this in mind is referred to as intersectionality – something staff and students should be aware of.
Every person should make sure to limit their judgement and bias against those who are different from themselves. If you would like to discover more about your unconscious bias then you can visit Harvard’s Project Implicit.
Language and Definitions
Our campus is an exciting and diverse place, and for many opens the doors to lots of new experiences. Getting to grips with some of the terminology may help you navigate your way around and help when meeting new people.
- Cisgender: Same gender as assigned at birth
- Transgender: Used to describe someone who is assigned female/male at birth but identifies and lives as a man/woman
- Trans: Umbrella term to describe people whose gender is not the same as, or does not sit comfortably with, the sex they were assigned at birth. A person is just as much of a man or woman no matter if you’re transgender or not
- Gender: Often expressed in terms of masculinity and femininity, gender is largely culturally determined and is assumed from the sex assigned at birth
- Non-binary: Umbrella term for a person who does not identify as only male or only female, or who may identify as both
- Androgynous: One is both masculine and feminine
- Bigender/pangender: One is multiple genders, such as male and female.
- Agender: One has no gender or is neutral about it
- Genderfluid: One’s gender changes back and forth over time. One can be female one day/week/month, and agender another
- Intergender: One’s gender is somewhere between male and female
- Transphobia: The fear or dislike of someone based on the fact they are trans, including denial or refusal to accept their gender identity
- Heterosexual: Refers to a man/ women who has an emotional, romantic and/ or sexual orientation towards women/man
- Homosexual: An emotional, romantic and/or sexual orientation towards someone of the same gender. The term ‘gay’ is now more generally used
- Bisexual: Umbrella term used to describe an emotional, romantic and/or sexual orientation towards more than one gender
- Pansexual: When emotional, romantic and/or sexual attraction is not limited by sex or gender
- Queer: A slur against gay people that have been reclaimed by the LGBTQ+ community
- Demisexual: One needs a strong emotional bond to be sexually attracted to someone
- Asexual: Someone who does not experience sexual attraction
- Allosexual: One feels sexual attraction to people
- LGBTQ+: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer/Questioning
- Homo-/Bi-/Pan-/Queer-/ etc. phobia: The fear or dislike of someone who identifies as LGBTQ+ based on prejudice or negative attitudes, beliefs or views about LGBTQ+ people. LGBTQ-phobic bullying may be targeted at people who are, or who are perceived to be, LGBTQ+
- Person with disability: May be restricted in various regards due to a physical and/or mental condition. Examples are paralysis and depression. Many disabilities do not pose significant difficulties for individual
- Non-disabled : A person without legally defined disabilities
- Visible disability: The disability is visible to most people Paralysis and Down syndrome are two examples
- Invisible/hidden disability: The disability is not visible, someone who encounters a person with this kind of disability can be completely unaware that the person has a disability. Two examples are depression and chronic illnesses.
For more information and definitions visit:
- AUSA Forums
AUSA has 5 liberation forums and 4 section forums as part of its structure, which exist to promote the interests of, and organise events for students who are part of certain groups:
The 5 liberation forums are:
- Women and Non-Binary Students' Forum
- Disabled Students' Forum
- LGBTQ+ Students' Forum
- Black and Minority Ethinic Students' Forum
- Trans Students' Forum
The 4 section forums are:
- International Students' Forum
- Part-Time Students' Forum
- Postgraduate Students' Forum
- Mature Students' Forum'
- Charities and Organisations
LGBT Foundation, formerly known as The Lesbian & Gay Foundation (The LGF), is a national charity delivering a wide range of services to lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans (LGBT) communities.
LGBT Youth is "Scotland’s national charity for LGBTI young people, working with 13–25 year olds across the country. We also deliver the LGBT Charter programme to schools, organisations and businesses.
Our goal is to make Scotland the best place to grow up for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex young people. We play a leading role in the provision of quality youth work to LGBTI young people that promotes their health and wellbeing, and are a valued and influential partner in LGBTI equality and human rights."
LGBT Health and Wellbeing (LGBT Healthy Living Centre) was set up in 2003 to promote the health, wellbeing and equality of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people in Scotland. It provides support, services and information to improve health and wellbeing, reduce social isolation and stimulate community development and volunteering.
“We're here to let all lesbian, gay, bi and trans people, here and abroad, know they're not alone.
We believe we're stronger united, so we partner with organisations that help us create real change for the better. We have laid deep foundations across Britain - in some of our greatest institutions - so our communities can continue to find ways to flourish, and individuals can reach their full potential. We’re here to support those who can’t yet be themselves.
But our work is not finished yet. Not until everyone feels free to be who they are, wherever they are.”
Aberdeen also puts on Pride in the summers, find out more at Grampian Pride.