200 education and youth sector professionals come out for conference on LGBT inclusion
Amanda Spielman, Ofsted Chief Inspector, says schools must teach about diversity in keynote address
Other speakers include Stonewall CEO Ruth Hunt, co-founder of Trans Pride Brighton Sabah Choudrey, and National Director for Diverse Church Jade Irwin
Over 300 young people and professionals ‘came out’ for LGBT equality to attend Stonewall’s first-ever conference dedicated to children and young people today (Friday 5 July).
Stonewall’s Children and Young People Conference, kindly sponsored by Prudential, brought professionals from the entire youth sector together for the first time to discuss and celebrate LGBT-inclusive education.
The focus of this year’s conference was centring young people and their experiences of LGBT inclusion. What makes this so important is that the voices of young people have often been missing or ignored when it comes to conversations about LGBT inclusion in schools and youth groups.
The conference’s Youth Voice Programme gave 100 young people aged 14-18 a unique opportunity to talk directly about their experiences and needs with professionals from across the education and youth sector. By bringing together these two groups, this made space for an exchange of ideas on how to create environments where all young people can thrive.
As part of the Youth Stream the young people participated in sessions on building a successful campaign, being an effective ally and heard from LGBT role models, including Ellen Jones, Stonewall’s Young Campaigner of the Year 2017.
The conference comes just months after the government passed historic legislation on teaching LGBT relationships and identities in England’s schools. From September 2020 all secondary schools will be required to teach pupils about sexual orientation and gender identity, and all primary schools will be required to teach about different families. This new guidance is desperately needed given Stonewall’s school report found that nearly half (45 per cent) of LGBT pupils – including 64 per cent of trans students – are bullied for being LGBT.
Ofsted Chief Inspector Amanda Spielman delivered the keynote address, during her speech she emphasised the importance of preparing young children for life in modern, diverse Britain.
Spielman told the London conference that it’s vital all children are taught about ‘the wonderful diversity of humanity in modern Britain: a diversity of race, gender, faith and love.’
She also told delegates that teachers, schools and young people’s services should create inclusive environments where all young people are able to reach their full potential.
She said: ‘Education shouldn’t sow the seeds of discord, it should prepare the citizens of tomorrow to create a more tolerant, respectful and hopeful world.’
Teachers and school leaders as well as professionals from young people services, local authorities and youth groups attended a full day of workshops delivered by experts in the field, on topics such as championing youth voices, creating an inclusive curriculum, fostering positive mental health and wellbeing, and engaging parents and carers in young people’s education.
Other speakers at the conference included Sabah Choudrey who co-founded Trans Pride Brighton, National Director of Diverse Church Jade Irwin and multi-award-winning youth worker Tanya Compas, as well as Stonewall’s CEO Ruth Hunt.
Ruth Hunt, Stonewall’s Chief Executive, said: ‘This year marks 30 years since Stonewall was founded to oppose the introduction of Section 28 - a devastating piece of legislation that allowed bullying to flourish as teachers were effectively banned from discussing same-sex relationships.
‘We’ve made huge progress since then, but we still have a long way to go, as we’ve seen the 'morality' of LGBT-inclusive education continue to be debated in the media and we know that nearly half (45 per cent) of LGBT pupils are still bullied for being LGBT. That’s why we’re so proud to work with over a thousand schools who are doing fantastic work to tackle anti-LGBT bullying and deliver a curriculum that celebrates diversity and difference.’