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Tuesday 17 April 2018

Solent University has been awarded almost £50,000 from the Office for Students (OfS) towards a project which will tackle religious-based hate crime affecting students.

Solent’s proposed project - ‘Human Library’ - will facilitate powerful conversations between LGBTQ+ and faith communities to foster understanding and empathy. The project aims to:

  • Find methods to support staff and students to build and sustain religious literacy in relation to LGBTQ+ through the curriculum
  • Examine existing ways to develop and sustain positive campus relations between different groups
  • Develop responses to politically motivated hate crime (especially in relation to religion or beliefs which struggle with LGBTQ+)
  • Produce video resources in partnership with students and local volunteer organisations that will be delivered through the Solent University Library and Solent Online Learning (VLE platform). This will include anonymous video dialogue between the faith and LGBTQ+ communities
  • Produce training materials and practical recommendations for other universities and surrounding communities to train students, academic staff, and support communities to address LGBTQ+ identities and religious beliefs

Project lead Osama Khan works as Solent’s Pro Vice-Chancellor, Students and Teaching and is also an Islamic faith advisor at the University: “Many religions struggle to accept LGBTQ+ people due to fundamental doctrines. Within the HE sector, we experience student, academics and professional staff who live dual lives tolerating LGBTQ+ communities and/or faith communities without a full understanding of the complexities that exist. This project will help to solve this issue by building religious literacy among students and staff within universities.

“We also plan to build a network of role models of varying religions and beliefs to help students and staff personally. For example, if a student is gay but follows a religion that does not recognise this sexual identity, we want to have guidance and resources available for them to access if they feel they need it.”

The Human Library project will receive £49,251 from OfS, which will be match funded by Solent University. The project will promote ethos such as ’do not judge a book by its cover’, which directly aligns with the values of the University and Students’ Union. The project has been set out over a two year timeline, starting in August 2018. A final report highlighting findings will be published in March 2020.