Throughout history, lesbian, gay and bisexual people have made highly influential contributions to all aspects of public life and the sciences are no exception. From Francis Bacon, one of the pioneers of the scientific method, to Alan Turing whose code cracking work was hugely important to Britain’s victory in the Second World War.
All too often, however, these contributions aren’t acknowledged in the classroom. This not only ignores a vital part of our history, but also leaves gay students feeling invisible and without role models.
Research by Cambridge University for Stonewall in the School Report 2012 found:
More than half (53 per cent) of lesbian, gay and bisexual young people are never taught anything about lesbian, gay and bisexual issues in their lessons.
Only one in three (34 per cent) lesbian, gay and bisexual pupils who are taught about or discuss gay issues in school say this is done in a way they find positive overall.
More than a third (35 per cent) of lesbian, gay and bisexual pupils say their school library doesn’t contain books or information about gay people or issues.
This is in the context of a school environment where more than half of gay young people experience homophobic bullying and more than half also feel they "don’t belong at their school".
However the School Report also found that by addressing lesbian, gay and bisexual issues in a positive way, through for instance celebrating LGBT History Month, schools can tangibly improve the experiences of gay pupils in their school.
Gay pupils are much less likely to be bullied in schools that teach and address gay issues positively compared with schools that do so negatively (76 per cent compared to 46 per cent)
Pupils who are taught positively about lesbian, gay and bisexual issues are much more likely to feel part of their school community ( 87 per cent compared to 55 per cent)
Pupils who are taught positively about these issues are also much more likely to feel that their school is ‘an accepting, tolerant place where I feel welcome’ (94 per cent compared to 64 per cent)