This LGBT+ History Month our focus will be on LGBT+ education.
For us, this takes us back to our roots – Stonewall was formally launched one year to the day after Section 28 was made law in 1988. This piece of legislation prevented teachers from talking about same-sex relationships in schools, forcing teachers back into the closet or out of their job, and scarred a generation of LGBT+ people – all at the height of the HIV/AIDS crisis, causing more hurt to an already marginalised community.
Despite being scrapped in 2000 in Scotland and 2003 in England and Wales, Section 28 still casts a shadow within education and beyond. The view of many people at the time was that Section 28 ‘protected children’ – a sadly familiar narrative still used today by pro-conversion therapy and anti-trans groups.
LGBT+ History Month in the UK was started by the education charity Schools Out in 2005 to bring queer history to light after this long period where school children grew up hearing nothing positive about LGBT+ people and our lives. And, for sure, we are making progress: just last year we saw a historic moment when LGBT-inclusive Relationships and Sex Education was introduced in England’s schools after years of campaigning. By the end of this year, LGBT-inclusive education will be embedded in all Scottish schools, and in 2022 LGBT-inclusive RSE will be introduced in all Welsh schools.
We are proud of this progress. But research shows that a lack of support for teachers delivering these subjects risks undermining the potentially life-changing impact of LGBT-inclusive education. And on a more sinister note, anti-LGBT groups are mobilising across the UK to undermine schools’ and councils’ work to support LGBT+ young people.
The shadow of Section 28 remains.
The shadow of Section 28 remains. It is diminishing, but there are still threats to the vital progress we have made together.
I went to school at a time when LGBT+ people – our lives, our families, our relationships – were hidden from sight, and speaking up meant punishment for teachers and for students. It gives me such hope for the world that we live in that my sons will grow up going to school where LGBT+ people, lives, families and relationships are recognised and talked about as part of everyday life.
We all have to play our part in supporting LGBT+ inclusive education and making this transformative social change a reality.
We all have to play our part in supporting LGBT+ inclusive education and making this transformative social change a reality. You can do that by sharing our free LGBT+ education home learning packs for pupils and encouraging the teachers in your life to enrol in our e-learning courses. Please donate to Stonewall so we can continue supporting LGBT+ children and young people, and their families.
Step by step, together, we move closer to a future where we are all free to be included, free to be proud, and free to be ourselves.