UNSW leaders wear purple with pride

There's only one dress code for Friday, 26 August: and it's purple to support young people who identify as LGBTIQ. 

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Purple reign: members of UNSW’s Management Board (L-R) Professor Brian Boyle, Andrew Walters, Professor Nicholas Fisk, Professor Merlin Crossley, Fiona Docherty, Shahina Mohamed, Professor Ian Jacobs, Professor Eileen Baldry and Professor Les Field. Photo: Grant Turner

Purple clothing will come to the fashion fore on Friday 26 August, as UNSW celebrates Wear it Purple Day, an international day of awareness to support young people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ).

The theme for 2016 is “Colour your perception”. 

Members of UNSW’s Management Board came together this week to show their support for the day and to demonstrate that the University is serious about tackling stigma and discrimination faced by LGBTIQ people.

President and Vice-Chancellor Professor Ian Jacobs says: “The Wear it Purple message is simple: you have the right to be proud of who you are. We want UNSW to be an institution that actively reflects this in all that it does – and to be a place where every person can be their full self, every day.”

Professor Eileen Baldry, Management Board member and the Academic Lead for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, says: “If we are to achieve the bold vision set out by the UNSW 2025 Strategy, we as leaders need to be agents of change.”

Professor Mark Willcox, who was appointed UNSW’s Diversity Champion for LGBTIQ in April, has been instrumental in driving this change.

Professor Willcox, a teacher and researcher in the School of Optometry and Vision Science and Associate Dean (Research Training) for the Faculty of Science, says there is a simple reason why UNSW should embrace LGBTIQ inclusion.

“If we have staff or students who are not able to express themselves openly in a non-judgmental and non-threatening environment, we will create an institution that can never expect or deserve to maximise the potential of its people. Let’s create a UNSW we can all be proud of,” he says.

He has wasted no time embarking on the mission for change, collaborating with staff and students from across the University, including members of the ALLY@UNSW Network, to form an LGBTIQ advisory group.

Professor Willcox is himself a member of the network, which aims to ensure that UNSW is a safe, welcoming place for all students and staff who identify as LGBTIQ. Staff and students can register for free ALLY training via myUNSW.

Professor Willcox says Wear it Purple Day is an opportunity to remind the UNSW community about existing initiatives such as ALLY and to draw attention to further work in progress to support LGBTIQ people.