This is how LGBT-inclusive education can change lives
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This is how LGBT-inclusive education can change lives

Hear from parents, teachers, former students and young people about why LGBT-inclusive education can change lives.

1. Ben Saunders, Stonewall’s Young Campaigner of the year

Ben Saunders

"Throughout high school I barely remember hearing about LGBTQ+ identities at all.  I remember not being able to understand my feelings or what they meant for so long. It wasn’t until I heard a talk in school about what it meant to be transgender, that I was finally able to articulate what I had been feeling for so long.

Without inclusive education, so many LGBTQ+ young people feel isolated, or even unwanted in school.

Without inclusive education, so many LGBTQ+ young people feel isolated, or even unwanted in school. It can feel as though your identity isn’t ‘normal’, or that it’s brushed under the carpet and not talked about. By making the new LGBT-inclusive education compulsory it opens up a positive discussion around these identities and creates a more welcoming and supportive environment for all LGBTQ+ young people to come out into.

I support the change to make LGBT-inclusive Relationships and Sex Education compulsory in all Schools in England because I believe that by doing so it means that all young people will be given an equal opportunity to understand LGBTQ+ identities, regardless of their background or families. This is so important, because one of the main reasons for LGBTQ+ bullying in schools comes out of students’ lack of understanding of what it actually means to be LGBTQ+."

2. Jo, former secondary RSE teacher who now works in the voluntary sector

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"I taught RSE to Years 7-13 in a secondary all-girls comprehensive school. Inclusive RSE is already being taught in lots of schools, helping children and young people stay safe and learn more effectively – statutory RSE will just make this a consistent reality for all schools.

My students were the ones who inspired me to start teaching RSE and to make it more inclusive. LGBT inclusion was often a topic raised by pupil voice groups. I couldn’t fail to be driven by their passion for justice and so supported them to lead assemblies. The impact was felt across the school and students reported a reduction in homophobic language.

It’s our responsibility as educators to ensure that school is a safe space for all.

But it is not the job of children alone to challenge discrimination. It’s our responsibility as educators to ensure that school is a safe space for all, as children cannot learn or flourish if they don’t feel safe.

Spurred on by pupil focus groups, I updated the RSE curriculum, integrating LGBT identities into lessons on puberty and contraception, as sexuality and gender should not be a barrier to health. New lessons celebrating diverse sexualities, gender identities and the history of Pride replaced lessons which had painted a one dimensional picture of LGBT students as victims.

Both allies and LGBT students among the predominantly Muslim student body were a powerful force for equality and overturned negative stereotypes about their religion. One Y10 student leader told me she felt like she was creating ‘a more aware and kind society’."

3. Sally, works in communications and has a six-year-old daughter

Sally

"The only time same-sex relationships were ever discussed at school was when we had a debate about whether or not it was OK to be gay. I didn’t begin to come to terms with my sexuality until my late teens. If I had had a more positive experience, I might have been able to do that sooner.

The only time same-sex relationships were ever discussed at school was when we had a debate about whether or not it was OK to be gay.

My daughter is a bright, curious and exuberant little girl. She understands there are different kinds of families. The books in her school library reflect this, and she has taken her own books into school to show her classmates, such as Mommy, Mama and Me. At this stage, simply understanding that different children have different setups at home is all that is required, and it’s really easy to do.

LGBT parents like me are doing the best we can to give our children a good family life – just like all other parents. Our children have been brought up knowing same-sex parents and the LGBT community and they are fine. Research proves it, but more importantly, life proves it. I am fearful of the idea that my daughter may one day face discrimination or be exposed to disruptions and feel the need to defend her mummies.

As a Quaker, my faith is hugely important to me. Quakerism celebrates that of God (or good) in everyone. For me, this is at the heart of my belief in equality. I want my daughter and her friends to be educated in an environment where if they come to understand they are LGBT, they can support each other, without fear of discrimination.

I want children to learn about equality in all its forms, so that when they come across something different, their first response isn’t fear and animosity, but curiosity and positivity."

4. Hafsa, Stonewall’s Bi Role Model of the Year 2019 and an LGBT activist - particularly championing LGBT rights in her workplace

Hafsa

"LGBT-inclusive education will save lives. Being queer is still not acceptable for many of us in South-Asian communities. We are at a high risk of ostracisation, violence and suicide. The message that LGBT-inclusive education sends is that who you are is not abnormal, and everyone deserves to be valued.

The new guidance is updating the curriculum to specifically address issues that many young people need to be aware of. As well as being necessary for children to learn about sexual orientation and gender identity, I am glad to see that issues including domestic abuse, forced marriage, honour-based violence and FGM will also be taught about. Highlighting all of these specific issues will make a huge difference to children’s lives.

Learning about LGBT issues from a formative age will allow LGBT youth to feel less isolated.

Learning about LGBT issues from a formative age will allow LGBT youth to feel less isolated. Moreover, non-LGBT children can learn how to become good allies to their peers as they get older. As a queer person of faith, I hope this will permit them to understand that religion and sexuality are not incompatible with one another."

5. Ian, secondary school teacher and is the former Chair of New Family Social – the national LGBT+ adoption and fostering charity. He and his partner Mark have two adopted children

Ian

"I attended an all-boys’ school in the 1980s. We studied puberty in Year 7 and learnt how to put on a condom in Sixth Form, but I learnt absolutely nothing about LGBT relationships. I was the victim of severe bullying over my sexuality. This negatively impacted on my self-esteem, confidence, friendships and on my early relationships.

Fortunately, our children – now aged 14 and 17 - attended a diverse and inclusive primary school with many LGBT families. Our daughter’s secondary school had ‘zero tolerance of racism and homophobia’ posters in all classrooms.

It’s essential that both schools and families teach children to be compassionate and respectful of everyone in today’s diverse society. 

Schools are charged with preparing their pupils for modern-day life. It’s essential that both schools and families teach children to be compassionate and respectful of everyone in today’s diverse society. We are grateful that our children’s school welcomed families from all walks of life and reflected them in their lessons. We have always felt valued and accepted."

You can find further information about the New Family Social here.

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Contact your local authority to speak up for LGBT-inclusive education.

£50 could help train a teacher to tackle LGBT bullying. Please help young LGBT people feel less alone by donating what you can today.