David Smith, who can be found on Twitter @professor_dave, decided to ask ‘out’ LGBT students in his department about their experience studying Chemistry at York.
The small-scale, anonymous survey asked four questions, including whether it was important to have ‘out’ members of staff in the department and what more the Chemistry department can do to help LGBT students.
The results, which are now being considered by their departmental Diversity Committee, were overwhelmingly positive, with students stating that the department was doing enough to support LGBT students.
One student stated that having LGBT role models in the department, such as Dr. Smith, helped their coming out process, and that it was a very important thing to have.
The department was described as a “safe and supportive environment for LGBT students.”
Smith commented; “As a gay academic myself, I was really pleased to see that our students considered the department to be a welcoming place for students, irrespective of sexual orientation or identity.
“They all felt well supported, and experienced effectively no homo/transphobia from other students. It has not always been like this in UK chemistry departments – nor is it still
“It was also particularly interesting to see the impact which students feel that our ‘out’ role models have had in the department – I had hoped it might have some impact, but was amazed to see how positive the student’s responses were.
“I think there is perhaps a message here for other scientists who may think that talking about their personal life is ‘not relevant’. I am sure the department’s hard work on diversity issues, such as our Gold Athena Swan award for women in science have also significantly helped.”