Majority of British public (60 per cent) think it’s right for teachers at primary school to talk positively about different families, including LGBT families
Almost half of LGBT pupils (45 per cent) still face bullying at school
The figures come one year before LGBT-inclusive education is rolled out across English schools
New research by nfpSynergy, commissioned by Stonewall, Britain’s leading charity for lesbian, gay, bi and trans equality, finds widespread support among the British public for LGBT-inclusive education.
Most British people (60 per cent) believe it’s right to teach primary school pupils about different kinds of families, including same-sex parenting. Among young people aged 16-24, this figure increases to over two thirds (68 per cent) who support LGBT-inclusive teaching.
The new figures highlight how attitudes towards LGBT-inclusive education have shifted since Stonewall was founded 30 years ago to lobby against Section 28. This legislation effectively banned conversations about same-sex relationships in schools and ushered in a dark era where LGBT young people and teachers were forced to hide who they were.
Even though Section 28 was eventually repealed, its devastating impact is still felt in schools today. Stonewall’s 2017 research found that two in five LGBT pupils (40 per cent) are never taught anything about LGBT issues at school, while almost half (45 per cent) are bullied for being themselves.
Stonewall works with over a thousand schools, including over 600 faith schools, to deliver an LGBT-inclusive curriculum and tackle homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying in schools.
As part of the charity’s 30th birthday celebrations, Stonewall is calling on the public to ‘come out’ in support of LGBT-inclusive education. People are being asked to share why LGBT-inclusive education matters to them and write to their local authorities in support of the incoming regulations for teaching Relationships and Sex Education (RSE).
From September 2020, all secondary schools will be required to teach about sexual orientation and gender identity, and all primary schools will teach about different families, which can include LGBT families.
Many lesbian, gay, bi and trans young people have already spoken out about how vital teaching about LGBT people would be.
As Ben Saunders, Stonewall’s 2019 Young Campaigner of the Year, said: ‘LGBT-inclusive education makes a massive difference when you’re in school and you’re LGBT. So many people feel isolated and left out on their own because they’ve never learnt about being LGBT. It can be the difference between deciding to turn up to lessons or not, and even the difference between holding out hope for the future or not.’
Paul Twocock, Chief Executive at Stonewall, said: ‘LGBT-inclusive education is life-changing teaching for so many young people, so it’s incredibly powerful to see such a big proportion of the British public supporting the new legislation.
‘This move towards inclusive teaching marks the beginning of the end of the long shadow cast by Section 28, and is something Stonewall has been working towards since we were founded 30 years ago. We owe it to the next generation to ensure our schools are a place where all children and young people can be themselves. It’s essential the government invests more in training and resources to better prepare teachers and schools to deliver high-quality LGBT-inclusive teaching now and in the future.
‘We need more people from all walks of life to come out for LGBT people and be vocal in their support for inclusive education.’
Olly Alexander, lead singer of Years & Years, said: ‘When I was at school there was hardly any mention of LGBT people or our history. It was like we didn’t exist. I had an inkling I was gay from a young age and felt extremely afraid of what that would mean for me. LGBT-inclusive education would have made a huge difference in my life. All schools need LGBT-inclusive education, it can and will save lives. Every young person deserves an education that shows them it’s OK to just be themselves and that no matter someone’s sexuality or gender identity they deserve respect.’