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Why National Student Pride has broken ties with the NUS LGBT+ campaign

Why National Student Pride has broken ties with the NUS LGBT+ campaign

National Student Pride with NUS LGBT+ at London Pride | Photo: National Student Pride

When National Student Pride began 13 years ago, it did so in protest to a homophobic hate preacher.

Our first event’s platform created a discussion about how faith and sexuality could come together. Now we have grown immensely combining a weekend long event of panels, performances and careers fair.

As the biggest gathering of LGBT+ students in the UK, we recognize the importance of accountability.

Which is why with great sadness today, we are announcing what we hope will be a short-term break in ties with the National Union of Students LGBT+ liberation campaign.

Despite invitations to the officers, this year they have refused to join our weekly planning meetings for the first time in our long-standing partnership. Therefore we feel it would be disingenuous to say that this year’s event is in partnership with them.

NUS VP for Society & Citizenship, and also a former NUS LGBT+ officer, Robbie Young says:

‘When I was the LGBT+ officer I was proud of the work that NUS and National Student Pride did together. Both organizations brought together activists from across the UK to celebrate and campaign for the rights of the LGBT+ community.

‘To hear the current officers have never attended a meeting and not engaged with National Student Pride makes me sad. Mostly for all the missed opportunities for the collective LGBT+ movement to work in collaboration with each other to make a change in society and within our own community.’

I agree wholeheartedly. To lose this partnership that has been standing for over a decade is gutting for all involved, and was not an easy decision to come to.

We care deeply about the NUS LGBT+ campaign, who have long steered our event for the better.

NUS LGBT+ officers with me screaming ‘We’re here, we’re queer, we can’t afford nine grand a year’ in the National Student Pride and NUS LGBT+ partnership block at London Pride | Photo: National Student Pride

NUS LGBT+ officers with me screaming ‘We’re here, we’re queer, we can’t afford nine grand a year’ in the National Student Pride and NUS LGBT+ partnership block at London Pride | Photo: National Student Pride

Inspiring students to take political action

Last year our event was part of the two-year campaign by us and partners all over the LGBT+ community, calling for compulsory and inclusive sex education.

With the NUS LGBT+ and Terrence Higgins Trust, we sent 400 Valentines Day cards to MPs asking for them to support compulsory sex and relationship education in all schools.

Three days after our event, the then education secretary Justine Greening announced the UK government would introduce compulsory sex and relationship education in all schools.

A win not just for the whole LGBT+ community, but all young people.

Melantha Chittenden, who led the campaign with us as last years NUS LGBT+ officer says:

‘Working with National Student Pride to lobby the government to introduce compulsory sex and relationship education was the highlight of my year as NUS LGBT+ Officer.

‘The campaign was inherently political, working with and lobbying MP’s to make a legislative change that will change the lives of LGBT+ children and young people across the country for decades to come. I’m so proud of the work we did together and the things we achieved.’

National Student Pride is the largest gathering of LGBT+ students, last year 1700 attended our event. Pictured, the main stage audience for the Sex Education panel. | Photo: National Student Pride

National Student Pride is the largest gathering of LGBT+ students. Last year 1700 attended our event. Pictured, the main stage audience for the Sex Education panel. | Photo: National Student Pride

Influencing the international LGBT+ agenda

Our event is free to attend, an important and vital accessibility decision by us.

This is possible by partnering with sponsors. They enable us to have the resources to fund our political campaigns, conversations and our event. All actions that change attitudes towards LGBT+ people.

Let’s not forget that six in 10 graduates go back into the closet after they graduate and join their first job.

Bringing down this staggeringly high number of graduates who have to turn back time on their personal liberation – remains one of our top priorities.

As an organization who protests by creating a conversation; we see our careers fair as just one of many activism routes to create dialogue, enabling us to influence international firms LGBT+ policies.

Radio 1 presenter and National Student Pride ambassador Adele Roberts speaking to Black Pride organiser Lady Phyll about challenging racism | Photo: National Student Pride
Radio 1 presenter and National Student Pride ambassador Adele Roberts speaking to Black Pride organizer Lady Phyll about challenging racism | Photo: National Student Pride

Vulnerable and homeless LGBT+ young people are our focus

Figures released last year estimate over 11,000 young people were made homeless last year. And that’s why this year we are talking about the crisis of LGBT+ homelessness.

It’s a huge crisis, that requires action from the top level of politics. We’re proud to be a pride of conversation that informs and inspires political activism. This will continues to be our focus this year.

Every year we always pick a main focus, that is unashamedly ahead of the curve.

This year Non-binary activists –fed up of being told by the media, ‘people don’t get trans so why will they get you’ – will be leading a discussion at our event, because we care about identities beyond gender binaries.

As our focuses on trans representation in the media, mental health and intersectionalities in previous years took place before popular media continued the conversation we were early champions of – we remain unafraid to challenge taboo.

Newsnight presenter and National Student Pride Evan Davis talking politics and mental health with Years and Years singer Olly Alexander.
Newsnight presenter and National Student Pride Evan Davis talking politics and mental health with Years and Years singer Olly Alexander.

What we hope to achieve with this statement

That’s why we hope our announcement today’s informs and activates a political swell in the LGBT+ student movement.

Students reading this should continue to engage with the NUS LGBT+ campaign, as well as the National Student Pride event.

We hope this action reopens our dialogue with the NUS LGBT+ whose officers have been unresponsive to us this year.

Next year we’d like to once again run a successful political campaign with them, just as we did on Sex and Relationships Education.

Former officer also Robbie Young told me:

‘We work best when we work together, not by working alone.’

I couldn’t put it better myself.

We hope you can join us on February 10th to inform the crucial national debate on the LGBT+ homelessness crisis.

In solidarity and pride,

Harriette Smart
National Student Pride Chair
Royal Veterinary College Student

UPDATE: 19 January

In reply the NUS sent Gay Star News this statement from Beth Douglas, NUS LGBT+ Officer (Women’s Place) and Noorulann Shahid, NUS LGBT+ Officer (Open Place):

‘Pride is one of the most significant dates on the queer calendar and reminds not only how the modern LGBT+ movement started. But also highlights new and current struggles for the LGBT+ Community.

‘Pride began as a protest when Marsha P Johnson – a trans sex worker of color – stood up to police brutality which created a riot. An action that would see queers rally for gay liberation for years to come. Despite its radical beginnings, pride changed. It has become less and less about queer liberation and more about profits. We have seen marches turned into parades and protests turned into weekend parties. As a community, we are losing the meaning of pride, and we are no longer in control of our own liberation.

‘As officers who co-convene NUS’ LGBT+ campaign, we were both elected to uphold the policy that our members vote on at our annual conference. We have active policy to reclaim Pride, we can no longer support Student Pride while it allows a range of corporations to co-opt LGBT+ oppression to cash in on the ‘pink pound’

‘This is a decision which hasn’t been made lightly and one we have consulted with our committee over. We hope this leads to genuine talks about how we can improve Student Pride to be political, inclusive and run by the actual community it claims to represent.’

GSN asked National Student Pride for a further response who say:

‘We immediately reached out to the NUS yesterday as we released Hatti’s statement asking to begin talks. We are pleased the NUS LGBT+’s officers wish to meet. As we set out yesterday, National Student Pride is ready to sit down and talk immediately.’