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College scoops LGBT award

(left to right) Arnie Tylor, chair of the board of trustees at Rainbow Foundation, Ryan Houston, executive of Rainbow Foundation, with Sunderland College representatives Steph Bloomfield, Vikkie Morton, and Stephen Day, and David Walker-Shears, trustee of Rainbow Foundation

Sunderland College has won an award for the support it offers to LGBT staff and students.

The college scooped the Creating Safer Learning Spaces for LGBT People accolade at the inaugural LGBT North East Awards.

It was praised for the work it has done in recent years to promote respect and equality for LGBT staff and students, and to make sure their college experience is a happy and safe one.

The awards, organised by the Rainbow Foundation – which works to improve the visibility of lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people in the region – were held at Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service Headquarters in Washington.

In their feedback, judges said they were ‘pleased with the progression that the college has made in previous years and the fact that it continues to develop further to help create a safer environment for LGBT students’.

As part of its ongoing commitment to the LGBT community, Sunderland College holds monthly meetings for LGBT students, discusses LGBT issues within its Equality and Diversity Committee, and promotes and celebrates events such as IDAHOT and Pride.

It has also set up LGBT blog and forum pages for staff and students, revised official documents to allow for name and gender changes and has assisted in the creation of policy documents that are LGBT friendly.

The college has representation on the Women in Policing Committee for Northumbria Police and works closely with key partners including Sunderland City Council, Gentoo and the fire service with the aim of creating a safe and inclusive community.

Vikkie Morton, assistant principal (Student and Customer Experience), said: “Winning this award is a great acknowledgement of the work staff and students have been doing at the college to make sure our LGBT community feels safe, welcome and understood. Our ethos is to have a friendly, inclusive community within our campuses, where we celebrate diversity and provide a range of support to all individuals.

“We have already instigated a number of changes to fully support LGBT people in our staff and student bodies, and we are continually looking for ways to improve the services we can offer in this area.”

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