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Amsterdam higher education in Canal Parade

29 July 2022
"X = me and X = us". With this tagline on shirts and flags, four Amsterdam colleges and universities draw attention to gender inclusion in education during the Canal Parade. Under the name Pride University, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, together with the University of Amsterdam, Hogeschool van Amsterdam and Hogeschool Inholland are once again boating for LGBTQIA+ rights and inclusion within education.

This year's theme of Pride Amsterdam is My Gender, My Pride and within higher education a lot of work is being done on gender inclusion. Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam is working on a considerable expansion of the number of gender-inclusive toilets and offers inclusive options within many IT systems when it comes to personal pronouns or gender.

For example, Canvas, the internal system for students, has four different options for personal pronouns. In the forms that students fill out during their introduction, there are three options for gender: male, female, other. When communicating with students and staff, VU Amsterdam increasingly opts for gender-inclusive communication, using someone's first name as a salutation instead of 'Mr' or 'Ms'.

But we still have a long way to go. Too often, students and staff are asked about their gender in education, without it being clear whether it is relevant to education or research. Students and staff in transition or post-transition are too often confronted with their dead name. In HRM systems, address books that are not updated or when applying for services or equipment registered under the ‘dead’ name.

Within Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, hard work is being done to solve these problems. "We want everyone to feel welcome at VU Amsterdam. This is what I want to work towards as rector, a safe environment where every student feels secure, can develop themselves, can find out what their talents are and how they can use them later in life. Above all, I want to urge every student to embrace what makes you unique. After all, studying is more than getting a diploma. It is also a personal journey that shapes you for the rest of your life", says Jeroen Geurts, Rector Magnificus of VU Amsterdam.

Pride week
During the Canal Pride, VU Amsterdam, together with the HvA, InHolland and the UvA, wants to emphasize the importance they attach to inclusive policies and choice: X = all of us! The X refers to the people who do not identify as 'man' or 'woman'.

In the Pride week preceding the Canal Parade, Pride University organizes workshops, guest lectures, speed dates and much more around the theme of gender, in collaboration with The Student Hotel.