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Platform, RDG’s LGBT+ network, celebrates LGBT+ history month at Network Rail’s Archway Conference 2023

RDG's platform delegation at Network Rail's Archway conference

By Louise Gale, RDG’s Platform Chair

Picture: Platform (RDGs LGBT+ Colleague Network) delegates Jonny Morrison, Louise Gale, Wilco Chapels, and Rob Morgan.

Formed in 2019, Platform provides a space for Rail Delivery Group’s LGBT+ colleagues and allies. The group have been working together to provide support and guidance to our colleagues, and deliver initiatives to make rail a more inclusive place to work. Our vision is that both Rail Delivery Group and the wider rail industry will be a great place to work for LGBT+ people.

During LGBT+ history month, the Rail Delivery Group Platform delegation welcomed the opportunity to meet with colleagues from around the rail industry at #ArchwayConf. The conference, delivered by Network Rail’s Archway network brought many LGBT+  colleagues and allies together to discuss best practice and how we can learn from other industries.

At this year’s conference we learnt about the cultural shift in football, increases in same sex adoptions, the importance of transgender allyship, how we can support the community with events and resourcing. Following the event, we are asking ourselves ‘what can we, between us, do next?’.

Read on to hear more about the different topics discussed at the event. This month we are also reflecting back on the UK Governments 2018 National LGBT+ Survey, and specifically how many LGBT+ people felt unsafe on public transport and in the workplace. 

Archway Conference 2023

Football’s cultural shift

At this year’s conference we heard from a representative from the football industry discussing football’s cultural shift, and progress in tackling homophobia, transphobia, racism and ableism. The World Cup prompted difficult conversations around LGBT+ safety, and a broader conversation about all human rights and what allyship means in practice. Visible and symbolic displays of allyship have significant importance, like the pride flag train vinyl wraps adopted by many train operating companies for example.

Discussions also focussed on the need for better representation, how it helps us bring our authentic self to work, and helps to attract a diverse range of talent into industries. This is important work, and we as an industry must continue to challenge unnecessary barriers to entry within job requirements. Stripping out personal information from CV sifts can help reduce ageism, racism, and further forms of bias, an approach RDG has already been actioning.

Rise in same-sex adoption

We heard about experiences of adoption and the processes involved. In England in 2022 1 in 6 of the 2,950 adoptions were to same-sex couples. Legal reforms have helped remove barriers, such as repealing the ban on same-sex couples adopting (2002) and adjustments to speed up the adoption process.

Boys and older children are less likely to be adopted than girls and babies. Children from ethnic minority backgrounds and Disabled children are also less likely to be adopted (source). Organisations like New Family Social are helping support LGBT+ adoptive and foster families.

Importance of transgender allyship

Stonewall highlighted the need for transgender allyship and how to do so in practice.

1 in 8 transgender people have been physically attacked by a colleague or customer at work. 1 in 5 don’t feel able to wear attire representing their gender expression. 1 in 4 are not open with anyone at work about being trans, rising to 2 in 5 non-binary people. 1 in 4 transgender people will experience homelessness in their lifetime.

Allyship actions that can make a more inclusive environment include allowing display names and signatures to include pronouns, ensuring uniform standards and dress codes are inclusive and the right policies and support protocols are in place to support trans and non-binary colleagues. Ensuring everyone can access a toilet is basic, but essential, inclusion.

Allyship is not passively accepting negative words and actions, or treating everyone the same regardless of their individual needs. It’s visible and active leadership.

Creating events and resources to support LGBT+ communities

We learned more about creating events and resources for LGBT+ women and non-binary people, who are twice as likely to not come out at work than men. Lesbians, on average, come out 2 years later than gay men.

Media representation of LGBT+ women in society often demonstrates prejudice and stereotyping. The term ‘Lesbian’ has been sexualised to an extent that it’s sometimes blocked by firewalls, hampering non-explicit communications being delivered such as fundraising or events organisation.

Queer Britain, the national LGBTQ+ museum, now features a Pride flag train (GWR’s 800 008). Examples of lesbian representation in advertising of rail services are to be celebrated (TfW).

LGBT+ people feeling unsafe on public transport
5 years ago the UK Governments National LGBT Survey highlighted that both in the workplace and on public transport, many LGBT+ people feel unsafe.

“Amongst respondents who said that they avoided being open about their sexual orientation for fear of a negative reaction from others, the most frequently reported places in which they did so were public transport (65%) and the workplace (56%)”.

“Non-binary respondents were more likely to avoid being open about their gender identity at work (72%) than trans women (61%) and trans men (53%).” Public transport followed a similar pattern for non-binary respondents (68%), trans women (69%) and trans men (59%) (source).

The rail industry is working hard on initiatives to help all passengers feel safe when travelling on the railway, like the Railway Guardian app an all-in-one safety app from the British Transport Police. This allows users to report crimes (including hate crimes) or antisocial behaviour on the rail network, share your journeys real-time with trusted contacts, and get access to guidance and support.


We will take inspiration from the conference back to RDG and look at what we can do next to make rail a more inclusive place. 

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