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Professional development

Rainbow Tick training

Rainbow Tick Diversity and Inclusivity Training aims to develop cultural competency around LGBTTIQA+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, takatāpui, intersex and asexual) communities, with a clear focus on how this matters in the workplace.

The University's Learning and Development Programme for staff offers an in-person workshop, conducted annually on campus by a Rainbow Tick facilitator. There is also an online training module developed by Rainbow Tick, which staff can complete at their own pace at any time.

Rainbow Tick Diversity and Inclusivity Training workshop

Access "Rainbow Tick Online Module 1 – Foundations of LGBTTQIA+ inclusion"
Sign in with your University username and password.

Otago University Students' Association (OUSA) training

Otago University Students' Association (OUSA) provides workshops and training for all University staff about working with the queer community.

OUSA queer support

Gender categories and titles

All staff can change their gender recorded in HR systems online, in the Web Kiosk. Categories are “female”, “male” and “gender diverse”.


What does LGBTTIQA+ stand for? What does “rainbow” mean? Information and additional resources about support for the LGBTTIQA+ community can be found in the FAQs list below.

What does LGBTTIQA+ stand for?

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, takatāpui, transgender, intersex, queer/questioning, asexual.

Sexuality and gender identity vary greatly and not all people fit neatly into one of the commonly used terms. The “+” reflects this diversity.

Other commonly used abbreviations are LGBT, LGBT+, LGBTQIA.

Additional resources

Commonly used terms

Inclusive language guidelines

“More Than Four” is a video resource from InsideOUT, exploring the identities and experiences of and beyond 'LGBT' identities. (10 videos, each up to 4 minutes long)

What does “rainbow” mean?

Rainbow is an umbrella term that encompasses people who are LBTTIQA+. The term has its origins in the rainbow flag that was designed during the gay liberation movement to represent diversity within the community.

What does “trans” and “cisgender” mean?

“Trans” is a generic term often used to describe people whose gender differs from their sex assigned at birth; this encompasses transgender, genderqueer, androgynous, gender-diverse, whakawāhine, fa'afafine, tangata ira tane or fakaleiti.

“Cisgender” is a term used to describe someone whose gender identity aligns with the sex assigned at birth, e.g. someone assigned female at birth who identifies as a woman.

Additional resources

Go to the Human Rights Commission webpage about Trans people: facts and information (10 minutes+)

How do we support a staff member who is gender transitioning?

Refer to the University of Otago's Gender Transitioning at Work Guidelines

Additional resources

Go to the Employment New Zealand employees information page.

Information includes transitioning at work tips, useful definitions and an outline of employers' responsibilities to staff members who are transitioning. (10 minutes)

What is the difference between gender and sexuality?

Gender is a personal concept of self as female or male, or neither/other. Sexual orientation refers to the genders to which a person is attracted.

Additional resources

Read The Guardian's proposed guidelines when writing about transgender people.

Understanding gender diversity: sex and gender are not the same thing (10 minutes)

What is a Rainbow Tick?

Rainbow Tick is a certification mark awarded to organisations that complete a diversity and inclusion certification process. The certification process assesses whether a workplace understands, values and welcomes sexual and gender diversity.

The Rainbow Tick is a continuous improvement programme and organisations are re-assessed annually on their progress.

The University of Otago was first awarded the Rainbow Tick in 2018.

Additional resources

Go to the Rainbow Tick website.

Why does LGBTTIQA+ workplace inclusion matter?

The University of Otago is committed to equity and diversity and to providing an inclusive, respectful and welcoming environment in which all students and staff are supported towards achieving their full potential.

Read the University of Otago Equity and Diversity Policy.

The University recognises that LGBTTIQA+ staff are more likely to experience barriers to achieving their full potential. Research suggests that LGBTTIQA+ employees who feel they cannot disclose their identity use up to 30 per cent of their energy at work concealing it.

Creating an environment at work where people can be themselves is important to their productivity, engagement, satisfaction and retention. The same principle applies for students, whose time at university is a period of learning and personal growth that is enhanced by a climate of inclusion and celebration of diversity.

Additional resources

LBGT+ issues in the workplace – listen to interviews with gay, lesbian, trans people who talk about their work, their colleagues, disclosure and language. (4 podcasts from 7 to 18 minutes long)

View/download “The Cost of the Closet and the Rewards of Inclusion, Why the Workplace Environment for LGBT People Matters to Employers” (PDF, 2.7MB)

LGBTTIQA+ inclusion at work – what can I do?

Avoid making assumptions about people's gender or sexual orientation

  • Listen to the words an individual uses to describe themselves and reflect that back. For example, a person might correct your assumption of their spouse/partner's gender or your assumption about the person's own gender and pronouns. If someone corrects you with regards to their gender or sexuality, the best thing to do is apologise, correct yourself without making excuses, and move on with the conversation.
  • Use people's self-defined pronouns (such as he/she/them). Some people state this information in their written communications (e.g. email signatures) or wear pronoun stickers indicating their pronoun. If in doubt, ask them.
  • If you are unsure about someone's pronouns when talking about them in the third person, it is often easiest to repeatedly use their name in place of a pronoun.

Respect confidentiality and withhold any judgement

  • If an individual is seeking support and information with regards to LGBTTIQA+ rainbow identities, appreciate this can be a difficult thing to do (because of real and perceived fear of discrimination).

Use inclusive language

  • Inclusive language acknowledges diversity and individual differences and is respectful to all people.
  • For example, you can use the terms “spouse” or “partner” instead of “wife” or “husband”, or “parents”, “caregivers” or “family” instead of “mother and father”, “child” instead of “son” or “daughter”.
  • Review and update existing teaching materials and other documents distributed to students or staff to ensure that the principles of inclusive language are followed (use “theirs” instead of “his/hers”, which is not inclusive).
  • The University's inclusive language guidelines

Become an ally

Know what is available for students and staff and where to find information.

Additional resources

OUTLine is a confidential service where you can call and discuss topics around sexuality, gender identity and diverse sex characteristics.

Calls are welcome from LGBTTIQA+ people, friends and whānau, or professionals who care for them.

Contact us

If you have any comments, feedback or know of interesting resources that you would like to see on this website please email us.


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