European UNIQUE project approaches final events

27 April, 2023 - The European UNIQUE project approaches its final date. Several closing events are taking place, like a conference in Brussels (and online), round tables to discuss policy recommendations and closing events in the participating countries Greece, Cyprus, Croatia, Poland and Bulgaria. Members of GALE can now also give feedback to the UNIQUE policy recommendations!

The UNIQUE project

The UNIQUE project is a large scale European project to promote social inclusion of LGBTIQ+ students in vocational education and training (VET). The main product is a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) for VET teachers on how to handle inclusion of sexual orientation, gender identity and sexual characteristics. The general strategy of the project is to recruit VET teachers as ambassadors for LGBTIQ+ inclusion and to train and coach them to become active in and beyond their vocational institute.
The project was prepared by a needs assessment research in 2021, and by developing a range of products to support future ambassadors. At the moment the ambassadors are taking the course and are trying out interventions in their schools. The project will end in June and there will be several presentations and discussions in May.

Emotional intelligence

The project takes a slightly different approach than ‘traditional’ anti-homophobia and anti-transphobia projects. ‘Traditional’ LGBTIQ+ projects focussing on schools often focus on stimulating awareness of discrimination and on offering concrete suggestions to improve visibility. Such suggestions range from raising rainbow flags, posting safe space stickers and labelling toilets as gender neutral to more vague suggestions to formulate school policy and to establish school safety.
The UNIQUE project works in countries were explicit visibility of LGBTIQ+ issues may create a backlash rather than to stimulate teachers and administrators to take a stand for inclusion. Furthermore, the pilot countries need more concrete ways on how formulate school policy and how to organize this desired school safety. The UNIQUE solutions are centred around paying more attention to the need for emotional intelligence in education. Rather than starting with rainbow flags, the UNIQUE project starts by exploring how negative attitudes and prejudice in specific classroom and institutions can be overcome by better handling the underlying emotions and needs felt by students and teachers. This approach is not yet common. This is the innovative aspect of the UNIQUE approach.

Policy recommendations

The project has revisited ‘traditional’ LGBTIQ+ policy recommendations. We made a revised set of recommendations based on the project approach to focus on emotional intelligence of students and teachers. The draft recommendations also recognize that change in vocational institutions will only happen when this basic attention for transversal emotional competences is also taken into account on the level of institutional administrators and in local, national and European policy. We call this a bottom-up cascade approach of policymaking. We invite students, teachers, VET administrators, authorities and politicians to take part in our survey to check to what extent they support our draft recommendations. Please take a short survey here

Final conference

On 12 May 2023, the European Erasmus+ project UNIQUE will have its final conference. The conference will take place from 10-12:45 in the offices of EVBB, Boulevard Charlemagne 28 in Brussels, and it will also be livestreamed. You can register here. The conference will discuss the piloted strategies to further such visibility and will discuss potential new options.
A short Dutch final discussion meeting will take place online on 30 May (16-17:00).

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