Supporting LGBT+ students

The Office for Students has identified LGBT+ students as a group that may be particularly vulnerable during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

These case studies describe some of the ideas and practices that universities and colleges have put in place to respond quickly to the need to support LGBT+ students during this time.

These interventions have been developed at pace and have not yet been evaluated for effectiveness. Their inclusion is not intended to stipulate particular approaches or endorse the actions of specific institutions. They are offered in the spirit of sharing practice that others may find useful and applicable to their own contexts.

Manchester Metropolitan University recognises that the coronavirus pandemic, and the associated restrictions on day-to-day life, will inevitably impact in a different and sometimes disproportionate way on particular groups.

In order to assist with the dissemination of information, the university's Equality and Diversity team have created a set of resources that they hope will be useful to vulnerable groups during this period. This includes signposting LGBT+ students and staff to resources created by organisations such as Stonewall, the LGBT Foundation, the Validation Station and the Proud Trust.

The University of Brighton provides a range of services to support LGBTQ+ students and has continued to do so during the coronavirus crisis. 

The university recognises that the pandemic and the restrictions imposed by the pandemic has led to additional barriers for many of the LGBTQ+ community, including: 

  • restricted access to healthcare (particularly for trans and non-binary students)
  • living with unaccepting friends or family
  • the impact of social isolation on mental health.

Additionally, it’s important to note that those with multiple minority identities are likely to be impacted further.

Recognising these barriers and impacts, the university has reaffirmed their existing support services for LGBTQ+ students and signposted students to external organisations and publications that might also provide support.

The university has a named contact specifically for trans and non-binary students and they have provided guidance and support to trans and non-binary students who have been particularly impacted by the pandemic and subsequent restrictions. 

For the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia on 17 May, the university’s Equality and Diversity team and Student Wellbeing Team also produced a blog outlining advice and support for LGBTQ+ students during the pandemic.

The University Counselling Service is producing a series of articles and podcasts to support students during the coronavirus pandemic, including advice on being at home with family who struggle to accept your identity.

Articles and podcasts cover a wide range of topics, including making the most of online counselling, digital life during lockdown, and importance of compassion and gratitude in times of crisis and beyond.

The LGBT+ at home article includes advice and information on:

  • taking care of yourself and your wellbeing
  • maintaining regular contact with your university friends and others who see you clearly and accept you as you are
  • connecting with communities online
  • signposting to services if you feel at risk of harm.

‘LGBT+ in Isolation’ is a weekly group hosted on Zoom every Friday for University of Plymouth students. The sessions are facilitated by the university's Mental Health Team, using LGBT+ identifying members of staff.

The semi-structured group aims to build connections for those experiencing difficulties and recognises that LGBT+ students may face a different set of challenges during the coronavirus pandemic.

In response to the pandemic the Mental Health Team began offering mental health appointments online. There were common challenges or difficulties that the university's LGBT+ students were experiencing. These included going back to hostile or unsafe environments, ‘back in the closet’, where their sexuality or gender identity was not accepted, respected or safe to be acknowledged. The team found that some of the students were suffering additional pressure because they didn’t have their self-created support network around them. 

It felt important that the group was facilitated and held by other LGBT+ identifying staff members, to build recognition and trust as well as a genuine sense of community. The team also worked with the university’s Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Team, the students' union LGBT Society, the LGBT Staff Forum and local LGBT+ support groups.

The University of Roehampton and Roehampton Students’ Union prides itself on its diverse and inclusive community. They are committed to creating an inclusive and supportive environment for their students, including any student who identifies as lesbian, gay, bi, transgender and queer +. 

There is a range of support for students and the university encourages engagement with university life through activities, societies, events and representation.

The university recognises that LGBTQ+ students may face additional challenges during their time at university. The university works hard to ensure all their services are inclusive and that they can create tailored support. 

Recognising that the LGBTQ+ students are vulnerable to challenges presented by the pandemic, for example living places that don’t feel safe or comfortable, the university and students’ union have reaffirmed their commitment to support students and the internal and external support services available to these students.


Published 03 July 2020
Last updated 30 July 2020
30 July 2020
New case study added

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