Introduction to the Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Advocacy Programmes
The Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Advocacy Programme Coordinator of the Wits Transformation and Employment Equity Office offers the following to the University community:
Creates a safer space for people at Wits identifying as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex, Asexual, Queer (LGBTIAQ+), or any other sexual orientation and/or gender identity through:
- Safe Zones@Wits: a training and advocacy programme offering anyone at Wits the opportunity to participate in training to be a Safe Zone ally. Allies serve as a support and referral point for people of any sexual orientation or gender identity seeking support. Allies are identifiable by their sticker and keyring, which indicates the Safe Zones logo. The programme also offers public lectures and interventions. It partners with student organisations and gender activists to promote the welfare of LGBTIAQ+ identifying students and staff. Learn more about Safe Zones@Wits here. Find your closest ally here.
- Wits Pride: an annual programme which highlights the visibility of diversity in sexual orientation and gender identity on campus. Wits Pride includes a march on campus, and a week packed full of opportunities to learn more about sexual identities through sport, art, academic discussion, film etc. Find more info on Wits Pride here.
Gender Neutral Toilets
43 Gender neutral toilets are available across 4 campuses and counting! More information on this here.
Gender-affirming Title Changes
As of 16 July 2018 - students throughout the university community may elect to change their title to one which affirms their gender, for example - changing from Mr to Ms, or Mrs to Mr. This is only applicable to University correspondance and internal use. All legally binding documents use a title aligned to your legal gender marker as prescribed under Act 49. of 2003. The changes available (via self-service) include the gender neutral title Mx (pronounced 'mix'). This move affirms the transgender, non-binary and gender non conforming University community. For any queries on this, please contact Tish Lumos. More information on change of titles may be found here.
Safe Zones @ Wits
The Safe Zones @ Wits programme strives to erase prejudice, while providing a support system for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, asexual, queer and other sexual orientations and gender identities (LGBTIAQ+) community at Wits University. Through education, advocacy and awareness-raising, the programme contributes to a campus climate that is safe and accepting for all members of the University community.
A major part of the Safe Zones@Wits programme involves the training of both students and staff at Wits University as Safe Zone Allies for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, asexual, queer and other sexual orientations and gender identities (LGBTIAQ+) students and staff members, their families and friends.
The role of Safe Zone Allies is to support LGBTIAQ+ students and staff members, as well as their families and friends, in the process of coming out; to act as a source of information regarding LGBTIAQ+ issues; to act as an advocate for LGBTIAQ+ rights; and to act as a referral source to other services, such as medical and counselling services. More info about Safe Zones@Wits here.
As of July 2018, 154 allies, consisting of both students and staff members, have been trained in themes around sexuality and gender, as well as basic counselling skills. The allies represent several faculties. It is our aim to have at least one ally in every academic school and support department at Wits University.
If you are wondering who our allies are and how you can contact them, click here.
Wits Pride is an annual event that forms part of the University of the Witwatersrand's transformation strategy, specifically focussing on creating a non-heterosexist, non- cissexist, non-homophobic and non-transphobic university environment. More info on Wits Pride available here. Wits Pride 2018 will run from 20-25 August 2018.
Since 2010, Wits Pride has held a number of key events during the Wits Pride period, inclusive of:
If you would like more information on Wits Pride, or would like to join the programme, contact Tish Lumos.