NEU members will attend Pride events around the country to celebrate the contributions of LGBT+ educators and young people and to stand up for education that is inclusive of everyone.
The NEU believes ensuring representation of all people across faiths, ethnicities, sexual orientations, gender identities and expressions, class backgrounds, access needs, family types, nationalities and ages ensures every child is included and informed about diversity in our society. LGBT+ inclusion isn’t an optional add-on.
Every child is entitled to an education that supports the development of their knowledge and skills as well as their personal development towards a healthy adulthood. This includes LGBT+ children and young people. However, LGBT+ young people still face many challenges in education. Forty-five per cent of LGBT+ pupils – including 64 per cent of trans pupils – are bullied for being LGBT+. LGBT+ pupils are twice as likely not to feel accepted in the area they live, compared to non-LGBT+ young people. The impacts of this bullying and exclusion are manifold and contribute to the disproportionally high rates of poor mental health, self-harm and suicide amongst LGBT+ young people in the UK and globally.
Education must be inclusive to reduce the barriers and challenges for LGBT+ young people and support them to have a sense of belonging and safety in their school.
Every child benefits when we teach them about families, relationships and identities that may be different to their own. LGBT+ teachers have spent decades developing creative and age-appropriate resources to support inclusive messages about everybody’s worth and equal value. This includes things like ensuring story books feature a range of family patterns, inviting conversation with pupils around gender stereotypes, organising events that celebrate diversity and safely encouraging pupils to understand the harmful impacts of bullying and the benefits of acceptance of difference.
The NEU has successfully campaigned to achieve statutory status for Relationships and Sex Education, but the Government guidance does not go far enough to ensure all children have access to equal education.
There are already helpful frameworks in place making it clear that schools and colleges must promote LGBT+ equality:
- The Public Sector Equality Duty requires schools to advance equality for all groups of people with protected characteristics, including LGBT+people.
- All schools are required to have in place preventative anti-bullying measures including work to prevent homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying.
- All schools are required to teach a broad and balanced curriculum promoting the spiritual, moral, cultural, mental and physical development of all pupils.
LGBT+ inclusion is also an issue that employers and workers can’t ignore. There are over 5,000 NEU members who identify as LGBT+ and undoubtedly there are more staff working in education who do not feel safe or able to come out at work. More than a third of LGBT+ workers have been harassed or bullied at work and the TUC has today released research findings highlighting the vulnerability of LGBT+ workers to sexual harassment. As well as safety for LGBT+ children, young people and families, LGBT+ inclusive education is also essential to creating safe and equal workplaces.
The NEU passed an urgency motion at conference in April 2019 on LGBT+ inclusive education and we will be developing practical resources to support schools and members.
If you have resources or strategies you’d like to share about LGBT+ inclusive education, or would like to know more or get involved, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org