The International Pride month is held during June. The purpose of the month is to raise awareness about and celebrate the diversity of gender and sexuality. During Pride month we can celebrate the amount of progress we have already made, but it is just as important to see what there is to improve. Pride month is also a protest, during which there are protests against human rights violations that still happening even in Finland.
Every single one of us should have equal rights to be part of a community and feel safe within it. This does not yet materialize in the present, since many outdated norms and expectations that are present even in the university community, do not take into account the diversity of people. In addition to feeling left out the strict expectations can at worst show up as invalidation, bullying or straight up discrimination. This can have significant effects on health and well-being.
It is important to bring up problematic aspects our society now and in the future because nothing will change if these problems are not discussed. It is hard to correct the actions of an individual and community if they are not questioned. There is a lot of work to be done for diversity of sexualities and gender identities: not a single student should have to wander around the hallways to look for a suitable bathroom or hear their sexuality used as an insult in student organisation spaces. Not a single student should hear themselves be misgendered or fear that knowing about their partner would lead to their university friends treating them differently
During the Pride celebration it is important for we students to ask ourselves what sort of atmosphere and culture we will create and maintain together. In addition to word choices we have to take a critical eye to our student cultures traditions. TREY cannot do this work alone, student associations and individual students have a irreplaceable role in this. Actions are required in order to progress. On the individual level this means intervening when spotting for example inappropriate behavior or bringing up problematic elements to their own association or student union. Associations on their part can develop the student culture in Tampere through their advocacy and events that they organise.
The role of the student union is to support students and association in equity work while at the same time improving the way we operate. We provide training and materials for association to assist in improving their operations. In addition associations can request training for us in a way that suits their specific needs. TREY has compiled a guide to equality in sitsi parties, which provides tips for making sitsis more pleasant and secure for all participants. Both students and associations can be in contact with TREY or make initiatives regarding progressing equity, if they spot areas in our university which can be improved upon. We are also in continuous conversation with the university regarding on how to make Tampere University a safer space to every member of our community.
We want to ensure that the student union and the whole university commune is a safe space for us all. We believe that change comes from bringing up faults and having open conversations. Even though the work for equality is not done, we can also celebrate the achievements made so far.
Happy Pride-month to everybody!