Stephanie Atherton

  • I think the main benefit of being out at work is the opportunity to represent a minority* sexuality and perhaps help to unpick some of the stigmas and stereotypes surrounding bisexuality which may have been learned from society – as well as generally raising awareness about the whole LGBTQIA+ spectrum!

    I work at Oxford Brookes on the Study Higher project, which is the local externally-funded Uni Connect partnership. In this role, I manage the delivery of aspiration-supporting projects in Swindon and Oxfordshire, aimed at Year 9-13 students from backgrounds which are underrepresented in higher education. Outside of work, I’m also Treasurer for Oxford Pride 2022, which will be my fourth year on the committee.

    I identify as bi, but have only fully come to terms with this in the last several years. Until this point, I myself had held the misconception that bisexuality meant you had to be equally attracted to people of different genders in exactly the same way. However, around this time I met and became friends with a number of people who experience attraction beyond gender, and came to understand that there's no set definition of being bisexual! Therefore, I think L,G, and particularly BTQIA+ role models are phenomenally important to open up discussions about and broaden perspectives on sexuality and gender identity, even amongst people who are a part of the queer community.

    Luckily, I’ve always felt comfortable to be open about my sexuality at Brookes – and in my personal experience, within the wider community of Oxfordshire. Working within such a large staff body means that coming out is a continuous process, but I’ve never faced discrimination and have always felt welcome to be authentically myself. I think the main benefit of being out at work is the opportunity to represent a minority* sexuality, and perhaps help to unpick some of the stigmas and stereotypes surrounding bisexuality which may have been learned from society – as well as generally raising awareness about the whole LGBTQIA+ spectrum!

    My message to prospective staff or students would be that Brookes has excellent LGBTQIA+ networks in place, and will make you feel very welcome in your identity - we’d love to see you here!

    (*Although in 2019, the Office for National Statistics found that 16% of 18-24 year olds identified as bisexual, compared to just 2% in 2015!)