We are all equal here, says the UT

| Jelle Posthuma

‘The acceptance of the LGBTIQ+ community is by no means a matter of fact', says Alex Jonkhart, UT'er and initiator of Th!ink with Pride. That is why the UT - together with Saxion and the ROC of Twente - will sign a declaration on 6 October in which they guarantee an inclusive and safe environment for the LGBTIQ+ community.

This year, the rainbow flag will be hoisted again at the UT. In addition, the large letters at the entrance will change into 'Diversity of Twente'.

Last year the platform 'Th!ink with Pride' was established at the UT. ‘With Pride we have been campaigning for a year now for a safe environment for LGBTIQ+ community at the UT, Saxion and the ROC', says associate professor Eric Louis. He is one of the initiators of the platform. ‘We want to help the Executive Board realise this safe environment. The signing of a joint declaration is an example of this.’

Louis continues: ‘The UT supported the LGBTIQ+ community prior to this official declaration. However, this is not always felt by everyone. The signing is therefore an important signal to the entire UT community.’ According to initiator and UT employee Alex Jonkhart, that signal is also directed to the outside world. ‘Look at the news of recent years. The acceptance of the LGBTIQ+ community is certainly not a given. The joint declaration also shows the rest of society: this is how we do it here at the UT, Saxion and the ROC.’

Louis agrees. ‘There are things happening in Dutch society that simply cannot be tolerated. Recently in Enschede, a gay man was beaten up in the city centre. I also see, as a teacher, how foreign students or Dutch students from religious circles struggle with their identity because they come from a less free culture. That's why it's very good when the UT says: here, everyone is equal.’

Workplace Pride

In addition to signing the joint declaration, the UT also joins Workplace Pride, an organisation dedicated to the emancipation of LGBTIQ+’ers in the workplace. ‘Workplace Pride helps employers to make the organisation more LGBTIQ+-friendly', Jonkhart explains. You could think of a gender-neutral toilet, for example. Of course, discrimination is against the law. But not all colleagues are aware yet of the fact that we are a diverse community. Not everyone can be who they are within the UT yet.’

In the coming period, there will be a lot to see on campus concerning diversity and emancipation. Next week, the large letters at the main entrance will be changed into 'Diversity of Twente' on the occasion of the rainbow days in Enschede. ‘A major investment', says Jonkhart. But these letters are going to stand out enormously and that's what it's all about. A so-called 'rainbow bench' will also be unveiled at the entrance. Furthermore, from 6 to 12 October, around the national Coming Out Day on 11 October, the rainbow flag will be waving at the UT.

Rector Thom Palstra will sign the declaration on behalf of the UT. The signing can be followed via a live stream.

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