Training and resources
Harassment and discrimination against anyone for any reason - including their gender, sex or sexuality - is never acceptable. In fact, harassment and discrimination against someone on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity or intersex status can be against the law, with limited exceptions.
Aggressive or intimidating behaviour towards someone on the basis of certain personal characteristics, such as sexuality, is a form a harassment. This might look like targeted jokes, derogatory comments about someone’s sex life, asking intrusive questions, etc.
Discrimination can include a variety of behaviours and is often referred to as being direct or indirect. Direct discrimination refers to the different treatment of someone from others because of their background or a particular characteristic, such as their age, race or gender. Similarly, indirect discrimination can occur when a process or policy leads to people who share a certain attribute being disadvantaged, even though the process or policy is applied to everyone in the same way.
If you are being harassed or discriminated against, there is support available, no matter who it’s coming from or where it happened. Safer Community is an inclusive service that can meet with you to discuss your options for support regarding harassment and discrimination, as well as your options in regard to reporting the matter. We can explain and explore your rights and equip you with information to help you make decisions about the next steps.
Contacting Safer Community
Support for Bullying, Harassment and Discrimination
If you or someone you know has been harassed, bullied or discriminated against you may choose to follow any of these steps:
Discuss the incident or behaviour with:
- a Diversity and Inclusion Advisor
- your teacher or program coordinator
- a DGSS ally at your school
- RUSU Queer
- RMIT Safer Community
You may also choose to make a formal complaint.
Coming Out and Self Disclosure
Coming out is seen as something that happens while finding your identity, but it’s not integral to existing as a DGSS person. If you’re out to just one person, just to your family or just to yourself, it’s just as valid!
Coming out is not for everyone and there are a number of other factors that may contribute to you not feeling like it’s safe or the right decision to share your coming out story. It’s also important for you to know that in no circumstances are you required to disclose details of your personal identity to anyone else. That includes peers, teachers, employers or people in your extended network.
Sometimes it can be handy to ask yourself a few questions to assess the DGSS climate of your situation:
- Who is the person (or group) asking and are they exerting power over me?
- Is it safe to come out and do I have a support network if things don't work out?
- How well do I know this person (or group) and are there signs that I will be accepted?
- Am I being asked to ‘volunteer’ information I’m not comfortable sharing?
If you ever feel uncomfortable, bullied, harassed or discriminated against there are resources and people available, for more information on strategies and resources please see Support for Bullying, Harassment and Discrimination
You don’t have to be scared to come out at RMIT, but we understand it can be a scary process. Perhaps you’re not sure if it’s the right thing to do or you don’t know how to start. Is there even any need to tell your teachers and, if there is, what’s the best way to do this? Here’s some helpful tips on coming out at RMIT and ways to navigate this exciting process.
It’s okay to come out ‘again’ and change your mind
You’ve probably heard it before, but coming out can feel like a never ending process, or maybe you came out as bisexual but really you want to be known as a lesbian. Whatever your chosen identity, orientation, name or pronouns, you can change your mind.
Find your support network
You don’t have to do this alone. A support network can be other DGSS people who are living openly, an LGBTQIA+ hotline (eg. Switchboard Victoria), your counsellor or your loved ones. Some people may surprise you; those you thought would be least judgmental may be the first to turn away and in contrast, those who seem least likely to be accepting sometimes offer the strongest support.
Coming out to your teachers
For whatever reason, you may need to come out to your teachers. The best way to do this is to send them an email or arranging for a meeting to speak with them in person. If you can, dedicate some time to speak with them in private. If you would like support with this process, please email email@example.com.
An example of an email (coming out as non-binary) might looks like this:
I am emailing you to advise that I have recently decided to come out to my peers and the staff at RMIT. This decision made will require your support and understanding as well as some changes. You may not be aware that I identify as non-binary. I would like to request that you use they/them/their pronouns with me. RMIT has an inclusive language guide, which may be helpful.
Coming out as trans or non-binary
So you’re coming out as trans or non-binary and you want to start the process of gender transition or affirmation. RMIT has developed a gender transition guide to support you, find out more via our Wellbeing and Support page.
Do what feels right to you
Whatever you do is up to you. Maybe you’ll start by telling a few close friends, maybe you’ll announce your relationship status with your partner on social media or maybe you’ll introduce yourself and your they/them pronouns in class next week. Do what feels right to you as there really is no ‘right’ way to come out.
Things don’t always go as planned
This is where you might want to fall back on your support network. People don’t always react the way we expect and it can be difficult for everyone involved. You might already know that a family member won’t like hearing what you have to say, so it’s important that you have someone to call, somewhere to go and someone who will listen. We hope you won’t need it, but in case you do, RMIT has a counselling service and the RUSU Queer lounge where you can find some down time. If you want to talk to an anonymous LGBTQIA+ peer counselling service try Switchboard Victoria.
RMIT runs regular DGSS awareness and education sessions which are available for both staff and students. If you would like to participate in a DGSS 101 session or would like a Diversity and Inclusion Advisor to speak with your student group please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Participants can expect to learn about language, an overview of diverse genders, sexes and sexualities, then impact of cis and heteronormative assumptions and expectation on DGSS folk, how to identify discrimination and harassment, report bullying and how to be an ally to the DGSS community.
- All are welcome, allies and members of the community alike.
- All spaces used are physically accessible.
- If you require Auslan interpretation, please contact email@example.com.
- Duration of the session ranges from 1 – 2 hours.
Inclusive Language Guide
RMIT has an Inclusive Language Guide that you might find useful for sharing with your peers and colleagues.
Being an Ally
Allies are people who commit to supporting and advocating for the diverse genders, sexes and sexualities (DGSS) community. Our list of Top 10 tips will help you to become an effective rainbow Ally.
The Pinnacle Foundation
The Pinnacle Foundation provides Scholarships for students between the ages of 17-26, who are planning to study full-time education at a public or private secondary school (final year) or public institution of higher education in Australia, for the purpose of gaining an educational or vocational qualification in any profession, trade or the arts.
GLOBE Community Grants
GLOBE has a long and proud tradition of providing financial support to individuals, groups and organisations in the Victorian LGBTQIA+ community through the GLOBE Community Grants, GLOBE Small Business Grants and the GLOBE Scholarship.
While gender identity, sex and sexuality are protected attributes by Australian law, this is not always the case in countries around the world.
Many countries do not legally recognise same-sex marriage and more than seventy countries consider consensual same-sex sexual relations a crime, sometimes carrying severe punishment.
Diverse genders, sexes and sexualities (DGSS) travellers are encouraged to review the resources below for more information on safety while travelling:
- SmartTraveller - LGBTIQ+ safety considerations while travelling internationally
- International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA) Maps - Laws and customs by country
- Rainbow SIG provides resources for LGBTQ+ students studying abroad
- GlobalGayz is a travel and culture website focused on LGBT-Gay life worldwide: In-person Stories, archived News Reports and Actual Photos. Life, Sites and Insights.
Whether you are going on exchange or on a study tour, it's an opportunity for you to gain new experiences and expand your world views. However, we recognise that overseas travel for DGSS students presents a unique set of challenges when it comes to not only choosing where to go but how they experience the journey.
At RMIT, we would never want anyone to feel like they had to hide who they are or go back into the closet; however, it might be worth considering how you will be perceived by the people in the place you are travelling to and your safety in relation to the presentation of your identity. Researching where you want to go, the local manners and behaviours and deciding whether or not you feel comfortable adapting can become a big part of the decision making process.
Some things you might want to look into before choosing your travel destination:
- Laws of the country
- Attitudes and behaviours towards DGSS individuals
- Visibility of DGSS identities
- How your host university supports their DGSS students?
- Does the host university have an ally network or equivalent?
This guide is for students participating in WIL who self-identify as DGSS or will be interacting with others who identify as DGSS during their WIL.
The opportunity for students to undertake WIL is a cornerstone of RMIT University’s approach to industry-relevant education and is central to the student experience. All students, including those who identify as part of the DGSS community, should be supported to undertake WIL that is relevant for their chosen program of study. Regardless of how they identify, students undertaking WIL are encouraged to familiarise themselves with this guide to prepare for a WIL experience where you may engage with DGSS colleagues, employers, communities and customers and where you may self-identify as DGSS.
What are the University’s legal obligations around WIL?
RMIT recognises its legal obligations to provide a work and study environment that is free from unlawful discrimination and harassment. RMIT also recognises the benefits for the recruitment, retention, innovation, collaboration and productivity of staff and students in an environment that celebrates and welcomes diversity.
RMIT University is proud to support the staff and students within our community who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer/questioning (LGBTQ+). Reflecting the diversity of our community beyond the ‘LGBTIQA+’ label, RMIT refers to people of ‘diverse genders, sexes, and sexualities’ (DGSS).
This means having access to the same educational opportunities and choices as all other students, including opportunities to participate in WIL as well providing the resources to act as an ally whilst undertaking WIL alongside DGSS individuals and communities.
Planning for WIL
While gender identity, sex and sexuality are protected attributes by Australian law, workplaces are still reporting that, while overt racism, sexism, homophobia and transphobia are not as prevalent as they were many years ago, workplaces are still challenging environments for many DGSS individuals.
WIL is an opportunity to gain new experiences, learn new skills and expand knowledge. However, undertaking WIL for DGSS students can present a unique set of challenges when it comes to choosing where you might go and how you experience the opportunity.
At RMIT, we would never want anyone to feel like they had to hide who they are or go back into the closet. For your comfort, we suggest researching where you want to complete your WIL, and considering whether the organisation is openly DGSS inclusive.
Some things you might want to look into before undertaking WIL:
- Visibility of DGSS identities within the organisation’s public profile.
- Is there an ally network or equivalent?
- Signalling of allyship (eg, pronouns in an email signature, rainbow lanyards)
- Is there support for using a chosen (non-legal) name in systems?
- Gender-neutral facilities and uniform/dress code policies.
- DGSS training and resources.
Even if the WIL activity does not tick all the above boxes, you may still want to continue, and the questions above may help you better prepare for your experience. Many workplaces may be in the early stages of their inclusion journey, and a lack of specific inclusion strategies does not equate to discriminatory environments.
Support for DGSS students
At RMIT, we recognise that supporting the DGSS community can require a broader understanding of allyship and a unique set of recommendations. This guide complements other resources to support the student DGSS community. To find out more, including definitions of terms, an inclusive language guide and an in-depth look at the support offered for both students and staff, visit RMIT’s DGSS website.
There are a number of reasons why you may want to request some changes to your WIL activity. Here are some examples:
- Location of WIL activity: Some environments may be considered high risk for DGSS students who may not feel comfortable undertaking certain WIL activities. For example, a student who identifies as a transgender woman may request to undertake a WIL activity with an organisation that has gender-neutral facilities.
- Using a chosen name: Not all systems are set up to support a chosen name, and students who have chosen a name for gender affirmation purposes may require a workaround to avoid misgendering and being ‘outed’ to peers. For example, a non-binary student uses he/him pronouns and uses the name ‘Charlie’. Very few people are aware that their legal name is ‘Charlotte’ and they wish to keep this private whilst undertaking WIL.
- Scheduling of WIL activity: If a student is in the process of affirming their gender, they may be required to attend a medical appointment or may choose to take time off from work and study. For example, a transgender man has top surgery and needs time to recover from the procedure. He may wish to adjust his WIL activity based on recovery and follow up appointments.
Changes can be requested following a discussion between you and your WIL Practitioner (in most cases this will be the Course Coordinator) and the partner organisation. The WIL Practitioner:
- can facilitate a WIL Activity Planning Meeting with you and/or share details of the recommended changes through email communication. This meeting offers an opportunity for all parties to discuss required changes.
- If you would like to support starting this discussion, contact RMIT’s Advisor Diversity and Inclusion who can help you with anything from writing an email to joining meetings with you. For more information, contact your Course Coordinator, WIL Champion or the WIL administration team in your School.
Disclosure and confidentiality
To implement changes to your WIL activity, the University requires that written content to discuss the nature of the requested changes with the partner organisation.
You are under no obligation to disclose your DGSS identity to anyone. If you decide to disclose to the WIL Practitioner in order to discuss the impact of your DGSS identity on a WIL activity, this information should not be released to partner organisations without written consent. Sharing of personal information is a personal decision and individuals should be placed under no pressure to disclose. RMIT’s Advisor Diversity and Inclusion is available to discuss with you the pros and cons of disclosure. The same considerations are applied to working with a colleague who identifies as DGSS. If they disclose information about their DGSS identity, keep this information confidential and do not assume others are privy to this information.
What to do if things go wrong during WIL
Despite planning and implementation of changes, it is possible that you may still encounter challenges during WIL regarding DGSS issues or your own DGSS identity. In such cases the following options can be considered:
- Discontinue WIL activity
- Defer WIL activity
- Request further adjustments to support completion of WIL e.g. change WIL location to one with gender-neutral facilities.
When considering what option to pursue, the following questions should be considered:
- What is the impediment to completing the WIL activity?
- Can further changes address this impediment?
When a WIL activity is discontinued, you will be provided with an opportunity to develop a plan for completion in collaboration with the WIL Practitioner. Plan options can include:
- Taking time off to recover
- Undertaking the WIL activity in a different location
- Undertaking an alternative to the WIL activity
- Undertaking a simulated WIL activity.
The formal mechanisms for discontinuation of a WIL activity are:
- Special Consideration
- Late Course Withdrawal without Academic Penalty
What happens if you can’t complete the WIL activity?
- WIL courses are assessed and are no different to all other assessed courses - the usual assessment policy and processes must be followed. This means that if you do not complete your WIL course assessment (in WIL this may be placement, or group/ individual WIL project activity, simulations, etc.) you will fail the course. If you don’t do the WIL placement or activity assessment, you will need to repeat, in the same way you would if you missed an exam (note: all Special Consideration processes apply).
- If you think you may not be able to compete the WIL activity, it is important that you contact the Course Coordinator as soon as possible. The Course Coordinator will provide options that may be available as well as review and prepare for the impact that not completing may have on your enrolment and progress.
- If you can’t complete your WIL activity and it relates to your DGSS identity, you may wish to contact the Advisor Diversity and Inclusion for further support.
Sample communication on behalf of student:
Dear (insert name),
I am reaching out to you on behalf of (name and student number) who will be commencing their WIL activity in the coming weeks to notify you that their known as name is different from their legal name, for the purpose of affirming their gender.
We have had a discussion in regard to what sort of work we can do to minimise any instances of dead-naming or misgendering and this email is one of the steps in the agreed process.
Please handle this information sensitively and privately to minimise any chance of (name) being ‘outed’ to peers. Although (name) is comfortable with this email being sent to managers and their teachers, please do not distribute this information to anyone beyond a need-to-know basis.
Note also that (name) uses (pronouns) pronouns and where possible we ask that you make the necessary adjustments to ensure that they are addressed by their name and pronouns.
If you have any further questions or would like to learn more about RMIT’s commitment to DGSS inclusion, please don’t hesitate to contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you in advance.
Please note: you can use this template if you would like to send the communication yourself. Simply change the language to first-person.
Can you be religious and DGSS?
Spirituality and sexuality are, for many people, interconnected. It’s a common misconception that people in the DGSS community are not or cannot be an integral part of a community of faith.
There are many communities within Melbourne which are inclusive of and celebrate the contribution of DGSS people. In some of these communities, DGSS people are in positions of leadership, including as priests or ministers of religion.
Representation and role models
Imam Nur is Australia’s only openly gay Imam and a prominent public speaker on issues that impact DGSS Muslims. Imam Nur is based in Melbourne.
Fr Stuart Soley is a priest and advocate for the LGTBIQ community and priest-in charge at St Mark’s Anglican Church, and LGTIBQ-inclusive parish in Fitzroy
Anglican minister Josephine Inkpin is a prominent trans Anglican minister based in Queensland. As well as being a parish vicar, she also works a theological lecturer in Brisbane.
Finding a community of faith that’s inclusive for people in the DGSS community can be challenging. These communities have consistently strong and inclusive DGSS leadership as well as opportunities for DGSS peer support.
These communities do not require or advocate for DGSS celibacy and are not associated with discredited “conversion therapy” practices.
- St Mark’s Fitzroy
- St Peter’s East Melbourne
- St Mary’s North Melbourne
- Christ Church South Yarra
- St George’s Travancore
- St George’s Malvern
- St John’s Toorak
- St John’s Camberwell
- St Bartholomew’s Burnley
- St Matthew’s Cheltenham
- St Andrew’s Brighton
- South Yarra Baptist – South Yarra, Melbourne
- Collins St Baptist Church – Melbourne
- Ashburton Baptist Church – Ashburton, Melbourne
- St Kilda Baptist Church – St Kilda, Melbourne
- St Michael’s Melbourne
- Toorak Uniting Church
- Richmond Uniting
- Brunswick Uniting
- Chalice – Northcote
- Habitat Uniting Church
- Sophia’s Spring, East Brunswick
- St John’s Uniting Church
- St John’s Uniting Church
- St Thomas’ Church, Craigieburn
- Williamstown Uniting Church
- RMIT Chaplaincy
- Faith and DGSS identity: Interview with RMIT Senior Chaplain and RMIT Ally Alae Taule’alo (PDF 155KB)
At RMIT, we believe all students, including those who identify as part of the DGSS community and living with a disability, should be supported.
Consistent with RMIT’s commitment to inclusion for all students, this guide has been developed to better understand the barriers and additional challenges as well as how to raise awareness of issues unique to the community.
Terminology and Language
DGSS: Reflecting the diversity of our community beyond the ‘LGBTIQA+’ label, RMIT refers to people of ‘diverse genders, sexes, and sexualities’ (DGSS).
Disability: For the purpose of this guide, we have chosen to use the term as it is used by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disability and the Australian Network on Disability found below:
Persons with disabilities include those who have long-term physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairments which, in interaction with various barriers, may hinder their full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others.
This includes any impairment or loss of function of any part of the body or mind, including:
- Learning disability
- Mental Health Condition
- Physical Disfigurement
- Sensory (including hearing impairment, vision impairment and other sensory disabilities)
- Long Term Medical Health Condition
Not all disabilities are visible
Similarly, we can’t ‘tell’ if someone is DGSS by the way they behave or present. DGSS people with a disability may find themselves distanced from their peers or family, be at risk of isolation, or lose support through ‘coming out’ about their sexual orientation or gender identity. Some may choose not to ‘come out’ and bring their true selves to work and study until they know their support systems are in place and they are in an inclusive environment.
It is always good from a DGSS and accessibility point of view to follow these guiding principles:
- Avoid making assumptions. Whether they have a disability or what it may be, what their DGSS identity entails, what help someone may need, etc.
- Always ask the person. If you are unsure about whether someone has an accessibility requirement to ensure they can participate on an equal basis, just ask them.
- A person’s disability and DGSS identity, and experience of disability and their DGSS identity, is as unique as their fingerprints. This is why it important to ask everyone at an event in a social setting whether they have any accessibility requirements or may require anything for their full participation. Remember, never to assume based on first impressions.
- Stay informed. There are a number of RMIT and external resources at the bottom of this guide that you might find helpful. They are updated regularly and open to community feedback.
- Stay connected. Join the student or staff RMIT Ally Network to stay up to date with changes and improvements to best practice and available support.
- Call out bad behaviour and educate others. Remember, your opinion can carry a lot of weight.
Attitudes towards disability
Some attitudinal myths:
- Having a disability is a reason to feel sorry for the person. People with disabilities have full and enjoyable lives, have friends, go to school, jobs and so much more. People who live with a disability do not “suffer” with their illness or condition and saying this is inconsiderate of the individual's experience.
- Having a disability is inspirational. People with disabilities are regular people and may not want to be referred to as inspirational for simply living their life. Disability-rights activist and comedian, Stella Young, presented a TED Talk where she states that by calling people ‘inspirational’ for having a disability, you are objectifying them.
Some questions to reflect on:
- How do you interact with people with a disability?
- Are you confident to talk to others who may have a disability? Do you make assumptions about how a conversation with others who may have a disability will go? Or about their capabilities?
- What are these past assumptions based on?
- Have past negative interactions, experiences or assumptions impacted your future willingness to interact with others with a disability?
Case study and sample communication
Arthur is a new student who will commence their studies in a Bachelor of Communication mid-year. Arthur has a hearing impairment, uses they/them pronouns and is still exploring different terms to express their gender identity. They are already nervous about starting the program mid-year and worried that most students will have made friends. Most days, Arthur will wear a pronoun badge, but people will still use incorrect pronouns when talking about Arthur and they struggle to be assertive or point it out when they have been misgendered by their peers. In the past, people have assumed Arthur is unable to hear what they are saying, not aware that they can lip read.
Before starting classes, Arthur registered with RMIT’s Equitable Learning Servies and contacted the Advisor Diversity and Inclusion who offered to support Arthur with communicating to teachers to advise them of Arthur’s pronouns and hearing impairment. Arthur opted for minimum sharing of disability-related information.
Dear (staff name),
My name is (your name and pronouns) and this semester I will begin my studies in (program code and name). As you may know, RMIT systems do not support the automatic display of pronouns so some people may use the incorrect pronoun to refer to me and this can cause a considerable amount of distress. I would also like to share with you that I have a hearing impairment, and although I may not hear it, I am able to lip read when I am being incorrectly addressed.
I am contacting you to advise you of my pronouns and hearing impairment so that where possible you can make the necessary adjustments to ensure that I am addressed correctly.
Kindly, (your name)
On the first day of class, Arthur’s teacher asked students to introduce themselves and their pronouns, leading by example. As it turned out, one other classmate also uses non-binary pronouns and another uses both he/him and she/her pronouns. This immediately eased a lot of the anxiety Arthur had about being misgendered or treated differently.
- RMIT Equitable Learning Services
- Accessible Map (including all-gender facilities)
- Inclusive Language Guide
- From ‘Outing Disability’ to Inclusivity
- The everyday experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people living with disability
- Working with LGBTI people with disabilities
- Carer Gateway
- Pride Vic
- Navigating thought and space as a disabled queer: Where do the quiet queers go?
We recognise that being a DGSS older adult can be isolating, but you are far from alone. Isolation and loneliness are often amplified for older adults and especially for those who are not living openly ‘out’ to their friends and loved ones.
Out & About connects friendly LGBTQIA+ volunteer visitors with people living at home or in aged care as part of the national Community Visitors Scheme. We match our community visitors with LGBTQIA+ seniors based on shared interests and hobbies. The pair then engage in regular visits every week or fortnight, either at home or another location. These social visits could include having a chat over coffee or tea, watching a film, attending a community event, participating in a hobby, game or any other enjoyable social activity.
Silver Rainbow was formed in 2013 to initially respond to the National LGBTQIA+ Ageing and Aged Care Strategy. Silver Rainbow works collaboratively with the government, aged care providers and related services, LGBTQIA+ older people and elders and organisations to create an LGBTQIA+ inclusive aged care sector. We do this through providing policy and program advice to the Department of Health and the ageing and aged care sector and working in partnership with LGBTQIA+ organisations and individuals across Australia and internationally.
A fabulous free monthly social event for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Gender Diverse, and Intersex elders and allies.
Alice’s Garage is a social enterprise empowering LGBTI Elders. We strengthen the voices of LGBTI Elders, draw on their knowledge and skills to address the challenges they face and build communities where LGBTIphobia and ageism are addressed. Our purpose is to address the inequalities LGBTI Elders face related to ageism and the legacies of our LGBTIphobic histories. Our vision is to build a sense of Place, belonging and community connection for LGBTI Elders – and to inspire others to do the same. Alice’s Garage is part of the Celebrate Ageing Program, a social enterprise challenging ageism and building respect for older people.