The UCC LGBT Staff Network will be celebrating its 10th anniversary on October 12th in the Aula Maxima. The network, which was founded in 2007, was the first of its kind among any university or higher education institution in Ireland. Speaking at the launch, then-UCC President Dr.Michael Murphy noted that “where people do not feel that they will be accepted, then they cannot contribute their full potential. This is not just a personal loss, but also a loss to the organisation or business, and also ultimately to society generally.”
Commenting on how attitudes in Ireland have changed over the past quarter century, founding Network co-chair Cathal Kerrigan recalled that in 1980, the new student LGBT society was denied recognition by the college authorities. Then called the UCC Gay Society, it was founded at a house meeting of the Philosoph. It took nine years for the college’s Governing Body approve its recognition. By contrast, Kerrigan notes, the initiative for the LGBT Staff Network came from UCC HR.
The network has been responsible for several events in its ten years of operation, including the 2009 “Pushing the Boundaries” seminar, which looked at the processes and challenges involved in setting up a support network for LGBT staff in the workplace. They concluded that the invisibility and isolation of LGBT staff are disruptive to working conditions and opportunities for promotion. Dr. Katherine O’Donnell, senior lecturer in the School of Philosophy in UCD and co-founding member of the Irish Lesbian and Gay Archive, remarked that “our universities are about creating environments where the most creative and committed thinkers, regardless of their race, class, creed, gender, or sexual orientation, can find a place and the supports to flourish.”
The event on October 12th is set to begin at 4:30pm sharp in the Aula Maxima, with a brief introduction and speeches from Senior Vice President Academic and Registrar Professor Caroline Fennell and current UCC President Patrick O’Shea. This will be followed by the renowned local LGBT choir, Choral ConFusion, and a reception with drinks & refreshments. For more information on the network, you can visit their website or follow them on Twitter. To join the LGBT Staff Network, or to find out more about it, you can email them on firstname.lastname@example.org.