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NWO celebrates Coming Out Day

For the second time, all NWO and NWO-I organisation units have marked “Coming Out Day” by raising the rainbow flag. With this, we request specific attention for the position of employees with an LGBTI background (LGBTI is the acronym for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex). On 11 October, we raised the rainbow flag at the NWO offices and institutes as shown in this picture of NWO Ínstitute CWI at the Amsterdam Science Park. By doing this, we are giving a clear signal that everybody must be able to be themselves. That we respect everybody and treat everybody the same. So that everybody can reach their potential at NWO.

I, Léon Ouwerkerk - LGBTI coordinator, am sometimes asked if that attention is necessary because people assume that in the Netherlands, and especially in a working environment such as NWO, everything is just fine. However, I believe that this attention is certainly necessary even if it only serves to remind us that not everybody fits in the same box or always feels free to express themselves fully. It is therefore important to ask yourself the following question:
How many people from the LGBTI community do you actually know in your work or private situation?

According to Movisie, the national knowledge institute for a coherent approach to social issues, 4-6% of the Dutch population is lesbian, gay or bisexual. A further 0.6-0.7% is transgender, 0.5% is an intersex person and 3.9% are gender fluid. The answer to the above question is that you probably know fewer people than the percentages stated.

Of course, not everybody is fully open about such matters. And as long as that is a conscious choice, then that is absolutely fine. But from a social and academic viewpoint, it is very important that everybody feels free and at home in our organisation. In this way, everybody can fully develop themselves both as a person and as an employee. So it would not be okay if people do not dare to be open and be themselves.

In this context, I would also like to request extra attention for all groups within the LGBTI community who possibly do not fit inside a single category.

An acquaintance of mine recently pointed out that I, as a Dutch white gay man, could possibly be myself more than other people in the LGBTI community and therefore probably had a somewhat more privileged position. Independent of the fact that I know enough stories from NWO colleagues which contradict that viewpoint, it does nevertheless mean that there continue to be people who are less fortunate: colleagues and friends with a different skin colour, with other social or cultural backgrounds, a disability or who simply fit in a slightly different LGBTI category. And this despite the fact that everybody should receive the same opportunities.

That is why we need to keep on devoting attention to Coming Out Day. Throughout NWO and NWO-I, we will therefore raise the rainbow flag as a sign that it should be possible for everybody to be themselves and open about who they are, be respected and be treated equally, so that everyone is in a position to fully develop themselves.

Unfortunately, as a result of COVID-19 no live Pride events could take place this year. However, interesting webinars are regularly organised via Workplace Pride (WPP) and also by the Academia and Tech groups of WPP to which NWO contributes.

Therefore please note 13 November 2020 in your diary when a Tech-LGBTI-seminar will be held about: “Data, specifically data ethics and data privacy (and usage of data) and how it relates to the LGBT+ community”.

If you want to be placed on the mailing list about LGBTI issues or if you have questions or would like to talk about (problems concerning) the subject, then please contact me.

Léon Ouwerkerk, LGBTI coordinator

Newsletter Inside NWO-I, October 2020

Confidental Infomation