Stephen attended the LGBTQ Inclusivity in Higher Education 1st International Conference hosted by the University of Birmingham on 15th and 16th September 2016. It brought together sexuality researchers, LGBT+ staff group members, equality and diversity officers and allies to discuss the issues that LGBTQ individuals face working and studying at higher education institutions.

“I came away from the conference with a lot of ideas to take back to the LGBT+ Staff Forum where I work, and I was glad to have the opportunity to address the whole conference. Judging from some of the feedback I received, many attending had no idea that asexuality formed no part of the sexual orientation protected characteristic defined in the Equality Act 2010 and that equal opportunity monitoring at some institutions forced its employees to lie about their sexual orientation.

“Towards the end of my talk, I directed the conference towards an open letter being sent to the Office for National Statistics about the national census in 2021. For the first time ever, there will be a question about sexual orientation and they are deciding whether to include asexuality as an orientation in this question. Inclusion would be a profound and momentous act.

“For one thing, it will give a better impression of the national figures for those that identify as being on the asexual spectrum and who would choose to identify as asexual. While these figures will not be entirely accurate — especially in cases where one person completes the questionnaire for the whole household, for example — it would perhaps suggest to what extent the 1% figure is true.

“Secondly — and most importantly — it would be an official acknowledgement from an institution guiding the government that asexuality exists. Any information given to the government with recognition that there is a significant number of asexual spectrum people in the country would likely place the Equality Act under greater scrutiny.”