The University of Sheffield in the north of England has announced it is to launch LGBT+ student accommodation. The accommodation will be open to students from September 2018.
A statement from Women’s Officer, Celeste Jones, said ‘This development has only come about as a result of the extremely hard and commendable work of the LGBT+ Committee at the Students’ Union, along with the continuous support of the Residence Life Team and University Accommodation and Commercial Services.’
She said the initiative had been driven by the university’s LGBT+ Committee.
‘It is vital that every student always feels safe within the Students’ Union, at University and especially in their own home. We strive to ensure that all University accommodation is LGBT+ inclusive; bullying and harassment is unacceptable and will not be tolerated.
‘However, LGBT+ students have felt that their experience in university accommodation would be improved by having the option to live in LGBT+ specific accommodation.
‘By no means is this accommodation compulsory, nor do we wish to encourage segregation, but we feel it is extremely important that our students have the choice of living in LGBT+ only accommodation if they so desire.
‘Even if just a tiny fraction of LGBT+ students feel this will benefit their University experience then we feel it is all entirely worthwhile.’
Sheffield is not the first British university to launch LGBTI accommodation. Birmingham University in the Midlands gained press attention with a similar scheme in 2016 for first-year undergraduates.
However, a spokesperson for Birmingham tells GSN the scheme hardly had any uptake.
‘We did run a pilot scheme a few years ago but it had very limited take-up. We do however have an inclusive accommodation policy and ask students to get in touch with specific requests. We provide support on an individual basis.’
‘Genuinely positive impacts on the student experience’
Martin Bailey, a former Sheffield Students’ Union Sabbatical Officer, praised the initiative to Gay Star News.
‘I think this is a really progressive move and demonstrates that student-led campaigns, like this by the LGBT+ committee of Sheffield Students’ Union, can make genuinely positive impacts on the student experience.
‘For the vast majority of young LGBT students off to University in September, they probably won’t choose this option. I know I probably wouldn’t have either, but for a few, the choice to live in an environment, where they won’t have to worry about coming out to their brand new flatmates who they’ll be living with for the next nine months, or exploring their gender identity hidden away alone in their room, is a really great thing.’
GSN has contacted the University of Sheffield for further comment.