Pride Unlimited at Mardi Gras

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By Christine Cardona:

Western Sydney University staff and students had once again taken part in the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras parade in 2016!

The Western Sydney University’s Ally Network and Queer Collective marched together in this year’s float themed ‘Pride Unlimited’ which comprised of over 50 staff and students across WSU demonstrating the University’s support for inclusion and diversity in education.

Participants ranged from banner holders, marchers, flag bears and cheerleaders who all united together to embrace sexual and gender diversity. It is by participation in public events such as Mardi Gras that demonstrates Western Sydney University’s culture and values to build an inclusive community in education.

The University was also not the only one that underwent a makeover with its new branding either but the queer collective had its logo changed early this year just in time to be used at Mardi Gras!

Since studying at WSU from 2007, I was one of many others who agreed that the queer collective logo needed an update. I came across the new logo that included other sexuality and gender diverse colours to demonstrate equality and inclusion of all identities including asexual, bisexual and transgender. The best part what that everyone loved it and it was approved by the university.

Grant Murray, a current WSU student who is studying Master of Teaching (Primary) said “My time at Western Sydney University has been a better experience – it has provided for me true acceptance, the opportunity to be at ease with my sexuality and great pride.”

The institutionalisation of discrimination in education is a key factor in poor health and wellbeing for students who identify as LGBTIQ+. Such health outcomes include poor mental health, psychological stress resulting in physical illness and higher incidence of drug and alcohol abuse and a higher prevalence of suicide and self-harm. Western Sydney University’s role in the parade was not only about having a great time but most importantly a way of institutionalising LGBTIQ acceptance.

Many students in the LGBTIQ+ community find themselves coming to terms with their gender/sexual identity while studying at university. That is why Western Sydney University promotes a culture that is diverse and inclusive, creating an educational community where everyone is welcome and recognised and that a vast amount of support programs are available across all campuses.

Western Sydney University accepts and supports open and transparent acknowledgment of sexual diversity which is imperative to prevent health problems linked with experiences of prejudice and discrimination towards LGBTIQ+ students. WSU’s participation in the parade also highlighted the need of social, cultural and political change in regards to services, systems and leaders that continue to discriminate against LGBTIQ+ identifying Australians.

Dr Tinashe Dune, Western’s Ally Network Co-Convernor, was one of many other staff who organised WSU’s Mardi Gras theme, float, props and participants.

Western’s annual involvement in the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade is a clear indication of the value the University places on institutionalising acceptance and ensuring that all people, from any background, are included and celebrated. It is such a wonderful opportunity to showcase our dedication to integrating experiences of diversity and connecting students with staff and the greater community. It certainly speaks to the slogan #PrideUnlimited.

The Ally network is an endorsed group of staff and students who are committed to creating an inclusive and respectful culture at the University for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ) community members.

To find out more about the Ally Network and Western Sydney U Queer Collective visit www.westernsydney.edu.au/ally or www.orgsync.com/90214/chapter

Christine Cardona is the 2016 Queer Collective President at Western Sydney University – Parramatta Campus

 

IMAGES: Sally Tsoutas

Mardi Gras 2016 - Cheerleaders[1]

Mardi Gras 2016 - Ally[1]

Christine Cardona

Christine Cardona is a student registered with Western Sydney University’s Disability Service and holds the…

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