This month is LGBT History Month in UK schools.
I am an out teacher, and as it happens, no, I am not a lesbian – I’m bisexual.
(although it’s tricky sometimes to say the B word in front of 30+ teenagers – it has the word SEX in, and can lead a lesson astray for a good 20mins…).
On the whole, my experience of being an out teacher in Brighton UK is fairly straight forward most of the time – give or take some hate crime reporting on a school trip, listening to almost daily homophobic, biphobic and transphobic abuse in the corridors and the re-education of senior management to let them know exactly what their responsibilities are when supporting LGBT+ staff.
Below, I share articles and resources then can help us get it more right.
And a video at the end celebrating some of the wonderful students I work with – yes, even the ones with Emotional Behaviour Difficulties – who accept that LGBT+ people exist and (as Stonewall suggest) have got over it.
For those of you who have been avidly reading my blogs on the Finnish Education Trip, LGBT+ awareness in schools was one of the few areas that I concluded that we are ahead in, in the UK.
Student reading the latest Captain Underpants books:
The two main characters George and Harold travel in a time machine and meet their future selves:
They meet George, his wife and children.
They meet Harold, his husband and children.
My student said ‘Oooo gay’ and carried on reading.
We have got to that luxurious point where cis-gender*, heterosexual* people often ask me: why do we still have to have LGBT History Month, isn’t everything equal now you can get married?
As lovely as that question is to believe – it is not the case.
Yes there is equal marriage by law for same-sex couples in some parts of the UK.
– It is still not possible in Northern Ireland.
– If a person transitions their gender their marriage becomes null.
– There are many religious venues who are still allowed to refuse a marriage based on the couples’ gender.
And it’s not all about marriage either!
– Hate crime towards the LGBT+ community have more than doubled since the Brexit Referendum.
– Public services often have little experience or training in supporting non-cis-gender*, non-heterosexual people.
– The British Home Office turns away thousands of LGBT+ asylum seekers each year who face prison or death when sent back to their countries.
In schools, despite the repeal of Section 28 in 2000, the shadow of it is often still at large in our schools: teachers are apprehensive about topics they know little about, heads can be unconfident about tackling issues directly, staff do not feel safe to be out in school workplaces, and in the press this month there have been protests by parents/carers at a primary school that has books that include same-sex couples.
I have several colleagues in schools I work, who do not feel safe or comfortable being out with students or with all staff. Yes, even in ‘Gay city’ Brighton and Hove. If a member of staff still feels this, then clearly there is still work to be done.
The detrimental effect this has, not just on our LGBT+ young people, but also the attitude and acceptance levels of our staff and pupils is immense. Intolerance and discrimination breed fear and conflict – this affects our young people too. As educators, it is our duty to uphold the Equality Act 2010 and Ofsted’s requirements in the UK, around homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying.
Begins with a music playlist think challenge.
Looks at recent history and changes since students’ lifetimes.
Sections for confident students to lead.
Lots of questions that take the difficulties of being LGBT+ into a wider question of: what is it like when we’re pointed out as being different?
The reaction from my excluded teenage students with Emotional Behavioural Difficulties finding out I have a same-sex partner.
*List of terms:
Lesbian – a homosexual woman.
Gay – a homosexual woman or man.
Bisexual – a person who is attracted to more than one gender.
Straight – a person who is attracted to the opposite gender.
Transgender – a person whose gender identity does not correspond with the sex they were assigned at birth.
Cis-gender – a person whose gender identity is the same as the sex they were assigned at birth.
Queer – a term for people who do not identify with traditional categories around gender identity or sexual orientation.
Pansexual – a person who is not limited in sexual choice with regard to biological sex, gender or gender identity.
Intersex – a term used to describe a person who may have the biological attributes of both sexes
Beyond Behaviour Sessions
Working with students with specific behaviour needs can sometimes become frustrating, prevent learning and can make you dread those lessons…
I can help you with that. Find out more at the link below.