LGBTIQA+, Wellbeing

IDAHOBIT is here again! Today, May 17, marks the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia. The intention of the theme day is to make visible the discrimination of LGBTIQA+ people and factors that still stand in the way of their equal rights. At Nyyti, we want campuses, where everyone can feel safe, seen and recognized as a valued part of the community.

On May 17, 1990, the World Health Organization WHO deleted homosexuality from the international disease classification register. The date was then chosen as a theme day to draw attention to the discrimination against LGBTIQA+ people. The purpose of IDAHOBIT is to increase the visibility of experiences of discrimination and violence among those who belong to sexual minorities or gender minorities, as well as to promote their equal rights.  

The theme for this year’s IDAHOBIT is No One Left Behind – Equality, Freedom and Justice for All. Earlier this week, the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights FRA published  the results of a survey mapping the situation of LGBTIQ+ people in Europe. According to the results, more and more LGBTIQ+ people are open about their identity. However, they report more experiences of harassment and violence, compared to the survey carried out in 2019. Challenges regarding mental health also particularly affect LGBTIQ+ people: more than a third of those who responded to the survey have had suicidal thoughts. The Agency for Fundamental Rights calls on the states to take measures to reduce discrimination and the number of hate crimes and to promote good and accessible mental health services.  

Minority stress, discriminatory structures and fear of all kinds of harassment and violence affect the mental health of LGBTIQA+ people, including within higher education. According to the student organization Qaareva’s equality survey among queer students at the University of Helsinki, hetero- and cis-normative structures are noticeable in the everyday life at campus, for example in the content of teaching, common spaces, systems and services.  

At Nyyti, we have wanted to address these challenges by launching a project to support LGBTIQA+ students’ mental health. Our intention is to offer peer support activities for those who have experienced minority stress, increase awareness and find better practices through training of staff within higher education and through advocacy work. Our goal is to promote better tools within the higher education sector to implement teaching, student healthcare and student organization activities, that are more accessible also in terms of the diversity of gender and sexualities.  

For us who work with the project, it is important that LGBTIQA+ students get their voice heard and have the opportunity to influence how we realize this project. Therefore, we want to encourage all of you queer students to get in touch with all kinds of ideas, thoughts, wishes and suggestions. Together, let’s make universities more inclusive to LGBTIQA+ students!  

Anders and Sanni, Building LGBTIQA+ Students’ Mental Health project ,