The aim of this lesson is to welcome you as a learner, present the project, the module, and learning outcomes.
Please, listen to the audio welcome message by Igor Grabovac, the WE PROJECT coordinator.
Hi There and welcome to the WE Project Educational Platform!
My name is Igor Grabovac and I work as a medical doctor and researcher at the department of social and preventive medicine of the Medical University of Vienna in Austria, and have spent some time working with lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, and queer people in helping them achieve empowerment and better health.
You might be wondering what is a medical doctor doing in a project that focuses on discrimination, stigmatization, labour and workers’ rights and similar issues. And you would not be wrong, this is indeed a valid question to ask.
What some researchers have seen over many years of research, is that our experiences at the workplace have an effect on our lives in general and also on our health. Just think of a time that you had a very bad day at work, and things did not go your way, maybe there was a confrontation with your boss or with your colleague. Usually, these feelings you had would not just magically go away when you were finished with work, and you would probably have some lingering emotions be weighing on you for a little bit longer.
Sometimes, these experiences happen often, these can have a negative effect on your health because they cause more and more stress and this could lead to health issues. Therefore, it is important to think about working environments when we talk about health in general.
So how does lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and queer youth factor in? Well, there is some research showing that youth workers are especially prone to negative experiences at the workplace and often carry these negative experiences for a longer time, even when they change their place of work. Why is this so? Well on the one hand as a young person coming from the educational system into the workforce, you have a number of barriers to overcome. The financial and economic situations are precarious in many countries of the EU and even the European Commission has noted that youth unemployment is a large problem. Here we already have the first problem that many young sexual and gender minority people face – they get discriminated based on their sexual orientation and/or gender identity when they apply for work. If this doesn’t happen and they get that much desired job, they find themselves in a minority, usually starting at the entry level, they have little control over their work and in some instances, they may come in contact with people who are openly homo-, bi- and trans negative. But they are just starting out, they may not know who to turn to, or who to report to, or are maybe afraid to report such experiences out of fear of losing a job. A lot of the time, people just suffer under these experiences and may also experience some health problems. This then also makes them less productive at work, which can just further increase the negative experiences and discrimination they face. Even if they find a new job, they may still have bad memories of previous experiences which may cause them to feel bad in the new environment.
This unfortunate cycle has to be broken; the question is how? And here is where the WE project steps in. The Promoting Work-Based Equality for LGBT+Q+ Youth project or for short the WE Project focuses on creating a knowledge base of experiences of both LGBT+Q+ young people and professionals who work with them. We are a group of scientists and fieldwork experts with backgrounds in medicine, education, sociology, psychology, social work, health sciences and law, and wanted to create an educational platform that will allow LGBTQ+ youth to find the right information that would help them be more empowered. Why? Because knowledge is power, and knowing what your rights are and who you can turn to at any moment when you experience problems such as discrimination is very important. But our research has shown that although many young people, many LGBT+Q+ people do experience such negative issues, they almost never report them. And why? Because they are unaware of where and how to. Also, they often feel they cannot change anything if they were to report because they never heard stories of histories of people who fought to achieve legal recognition and equal rights. They are also often unaware how these unwanted and problematic issues can influence not only their time at work but their whole life.
However, the LGBT+Q+ youth are not the only ones that require information, education and attention. The same goes for a number of experts and professionals who work with young people entering the workforce. These are psychologists, educators, occupational health doctors, human resources managers and policy makers. So, this educational platform is also aimed at them as well. In our research we also asked the experts and professionals on their opinions, what they perceive as most problematic in ensuring diversity at the workplace and how they see the solutions. Therefore, this educational platform is aimed at them as well. To learn about the basics of human sexuality and gender identities, to learn about specific problems but also rights and how to help sexual and gender minority youth uphold these rights, how to be a true ally.
Lastly, this educational platform also contains a tool kit of best practices. Here you can find descriptions of various ways that you can include diversity into your own workplaces and see how other organizations have done it successfully. You can also see about the potential to transfer these strategies into your own environments, and what you should take into account when doing it. The platform also contains a way for you to submit your own example and our experts will review it and potentially add it to our list, where other people can also observe your own examples and maybe try to replicate it in their respective settings.
Once you begin on your educational journey with our platform you will see that it is organized in 4 modules with various topics. These are sex, sexuality and gender where you can learn the basic terminology and some historical background. Next is LGBTIQ in the workplace: where you can learn about safe places and spaces, human rights, safeguarding human rights, discrimination and specific issues that sexual and gender minority people and especially youth face at the workplace. Next, we are moving on to inclusion, where you can learn about legal frameworks in preventing discrimination and about key factors that foster diversity and inclusion policies. Finally, as our group consists of six countries with a single goal you can have a look at the specific information and situations in our countries, which are Austria, Spain, Slovakia, Serbia, Croatia and the United Kingdom. It is our hope that by the end of the project, we will continue this work and many more countries will join us and expand the platform.
Educational modules consist of short introductory podcasts and messages, outlining the most important issues, and then a number of materials for you to explore through written and prepared materials, presentations, or links to other media such as YouTube. At the very end, you will be asked to self-reflect on the process. And think about how this process has changed you.
If you would like to read our reports on the legal and best practice analysis as well as our data on interviews, focus groups with LGBT+Q+ YOUTH AND PROFESSIONALS as well as survey data, you can find those in the links that are outlined on this page.
In the name of our group, I wish you a fun and educational trip towards discovery. If you have any questions or would like to provide us with feedback, please contact us via the email address of the project or via Twitter or Facebook.