A new jacaranda tree planted today at Flinders stands as an enduring symbol of the University’s support for its lesbian, gay, bisexual, transexual, intersex and queer staff and students.
The planting ceremony, as the rainbow flag fies over Flinders in celebration of International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia, is one of several special events to mark the occasion.
Flinders Director of Buildings and Property David Banks, Manager of Equal Opportunity and Diversity Lisa O’Neill, and student council Queer Officer Khyle Milne (pictured) – who intentionally selected a seedling with a crooked trunk – planted the tree at 12pm at the lawns near the southern end of the Hub.
The event was attended by Flinders staff and students including the Flinders Ally Network and student Queer Collective.
The purple flowering jacaranda reflects the purple shade adopted by champions of equal opportunity and diversity.
“Flinders University is committed to diversity and equal opportunity and proudly supports the International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia,” says Flinders University Vice-Chancellor Professor Colin Stirling.
“Education is the key to ending discrimination, and creating an inclusive society in which difference isn’t simply tolerated, but accepted.”
Sophie Pointer, Senior Research Fellow at the Flinders Research Centre for Injury Studies, and a Flinders Ally Network member, said International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia is about all people hoping for a prejudice-free world that can provide a “place at the table for everyone regardless of their sexual orientation or gender diversity”.
“The Ally Network at Flinders comprises both staff and students, who are knowledgeable in, receptive to and understanding of issues for people of diverse gender and sexuality – those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual, transgender, intersex, queer or questioning,” she says.
“This year the Ally Network has chosen to throw itself behind FUSA Queer Officer Khyle Milne’s vision to plant this commemorative tree.
“The network hopes to be able to watch this tree grow over the coming years, and has its own vision that this tree might become an important and meaningful symbol of the University support for our community of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer people.”
Tonsley’s roof lights will also shine in rainbow colours tonight to ensure Flinders’ support for its staff and students continues to be demonstrated throughout the day.