As the first student union in Sweden, the Linnaeus Union completed a training in 2019 with the aim of becoming LGBTQ certified. Since then, we have received a very positive response from both students and others. But! The work is not over. In 2020, the Linnaeus Union established a new set of values. We felt that the old one was outdated and it did not reflect our business. We wanted the LGBTQ diploma to form the basis for a new, more inclusive value base. It takes into account our development and clarifies our approach to students and members.
Just before the Christmas holidays, we were contacted by a student, Felix, who criticized a wording in the application for the Buddy program.
Felix- When I was about to register as a buddy last semester (autumn 2020), I reacted to the design of the questions that concerned the LGBTQ + perspective. I contacted the person in charge at the Linnaeus Union and asked what the purpose of these questions was and that the form must be more inclusive.
Karin Siöö is Student Coordinator at the Linnaeus Union and responsible for the design of the application forms for the Buddy program.
-In connection with our LGBTQ certification, a review was made of the information on the web for the Buddy program. We enlisted the help of a trans student to formulate questions to be able to ensure that future trans students feel secure in participating in the Buddy program.
Felix was not really happy with the first contact he had with us / the Linnaeus Union.
Felix- I thought you were hiding behind the fact that you are LGBTQ certified. The diploma does not mean that everything you do is positive for LGBTQ + students.
Karin - When Felix got in touch, I felt that the changes that had previously been implemented were not so good. My attitude was to listen to Felix and use his experience. It was just to realize that we had done something wrong. In our quest to be inclusive for one group within LGBTQ +, we did wrong for another.
After a couple of meetings, Felix's impression of the Linnaeus Union is more positive.
Felix - It has been valuable to be involved in the process and contribute to strengthening the rights of LGBTQ + people within the Buddy program. The Linnaeus Union has listened to me and my network and taken on board the criticism in a good way.
In addition to the changes in the buddy registration, Felix has proposed additional measures that the Linnaeus Union should implement to be more welcoming towards LGBTQ + people.
Felix - It would be reasonable to highlight the LGBTQ perspective on the international students' introduction, as well as to include it as part of the buddy introductions (for new buddies). It would also be good if there is an association that works with LGBTQ + issues that can be used as a kind of consultation body in your work to become more aware of LGBTQ + in practice.
Stina Hultberg, student life responsible at the Linnaeus Union in Växjö:
Stina - We welcome the fact that students such as Felix get involved and make us more aware, which is needed so that we as an organization can continue to develop in matters concerning LGBTQ +.
NOTE! Felix is actually called something else as he wishes to remain anonymous