LGBT+ History Month 2020 – we’ve got so much to shout about!

Anna Einarsdottir

Dr Anna Einarsdottir is a senior lecturer in work, management and organisation at the York Management School, University of York. She has been conducting research into LGBT+ networks across the NHS.

NHS Employers asked me to share some of my thoughts on the research we carried out on NHS LGBT+ networks. I felt this was an ideal time to reflect on our work in 2019 in time for LGBT+ History Month. 

So, what can I tell you?

In 2019, my team and I surveyed over 4,000 NHS employees in England and separately worked with nine LGBT+ networks in different NHS organisations in England, Scotland and Wales. Not surprisingly, this was both challenging and incredibly satisfying in so many ways. Compared to this time last year, I now know a lot more about how LGBT+ networks operate and what support mechanisms are in place for them to be successful. When I’m asked why people join LGBT+ networks, I can tell them that it’s because those staff members wanted to make change happen and to meet people just like them. I discovered the focus of LGBT+ networks was largely about raising awareness, but often, it was unclear exactly what they were raising awareness of. There was also a lack of representation from bisexual, transgender, black, Asian and minority ethnic staff, and clinical staff. My key message to you during LGBT+ History Month is what does your LGBT+ network look like? Is it diverse and how representative is it?

What can you look forward to in 2020?

We had an idea of using video booths within NHS organisations to give LGBT+ staff and allies an opportunity to record a brief message about their working life and experiences of LGBT+ networks. I had my reservations - would NHS trusts give access? Will there be support as well? Are people willing to share experiences on camera?

However, these reservations were shown to be unfounded and I was overwhelmed with the positive response - we had 40 organisations volunteer to host a video booth during the month. In the end, we selected eight different NHS events. This year, I would like to look at creative ways of using the video clips for training purposes and to make the material available on our LGBT+ Network website. So, look out for these resources in 2020!

When I started the research in 2017, I wanted to produce more than just an academic report. More than anything, I wanted to use different mediums to share my findings. So, we decided to work with artists and develop a theatre performance (I decided to stick to academia and left the acting to the experts). I am delighted to announce that in April 2020 we will premiere the play ‘Any Other Business’ by Adam Robinson at two separate events in London and Leeds. The play is inspired by our research findings and tells the story of Natasha, a lesbian cisgender media officer at a health trust, which has the LGBT+ employee network Voice. As the incoming chair of Voice, Natasha faces some fundamental questions about the purpose of this network, issues around inclusion, and where the network is heading. The play will feature at the York Festival of Ideas this summer, with a further 12 performances available on-demand in May and June. Not forgetting we have also planned two conferences in April, in Leeds and London and details will be available very soon.

All being well, the final research report will be published in April and made available on our website alongside a leaflet with key messages and recommendations. Finally, I am working on five half day regional workshops which will be delivered in the autumn across the NHS. The workshops are aimed at those who run, manage and/or support LGBT+ networks. In part the workshops will be guided by topical requests from delegates, but also, draw on what we have learned from networks and their supporters.

Interested? Let me know.

It’s going to be a hectic but exciting 2020, so come on board - it’s going to be an incredible journey.

Happy LGBT+ History Month!

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