Inclusive curriculum

Three in five gay college students are never taught anything about lesbian, gay and bisexual people at college.  The Skills Funding Agency found that the greatest barrier to learning for gay students was ‘insensitive curriculum content’, particularly on vocational or professional courses which suffer from gender stereotyping.

Making sure your courses are sensitive to and reflective of lesbian, gay and bisexual issues goes a long way towards making sure that gay students feel more accepted in the student community. An inclusive curriculum has also been shown to help prevent homophobic bullying and better prepares all students for life in the diverse Britain of the 21st century. However, 58 per cent of gay college students are never taught anything about lesbian, gay and bisexual people at college (The School Report).

Why integrate lesbian, gay and bisexual people and issues into the curriculum?

When lesbian, gay and bisexual issues are integrated into the curriculum, gay students feel happier and more included in their learning. More broadly, it’s important that all students are prepared for life in a diverse society, and talking about these issues helps build that awareness and lowers the likelihood of homophobic bullying. Unchecked, homophobic attitudes can have profoundly negative consequences. For instance, Stonewall's report on homophobic hate crime found that over seven in ten victims of hate incidents aged 18 to 24 say that they were committed by a stranger under the age of 25.

It's also important that the curriculum reflects reality and students' experiences. All students need to be able to talk about issues which affect them. Students in every college will have lesbian, gay or bisexual family members or will know someone who is gay. There will also be students who are lesbian, gay and bisexual themselves. The School Report found that almost half (47 per cent) of lesbian, gay and bisexual college students don't feel that there is an adult at college who they can talk to about being gay. 

How to include lesbian, gay and bisexual people and issues across a broad  college curriculum

It isn't difficult to talk about lesbian, gay and bisexual issues in your college and there are many opportunities to do so. It isn't about doing anything special or different but to acknowledge that gay people exist, that same-sex relationships are a reality and to challenge stereotypes. In vocational courses, it’s about making sure all students are prepared for working alongside a diverse group of people when they leave college and are aware of their rights and responsibilities under the law.

FIT, Stonewall's groundbreaking film about friendship, coming out and fitting in is a teaching resource for secondary schools and colleges and provides a good starting point for discussion of these issues.  There are also a number of books you could use or suggest they be made available in the college library.


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