Every summer, hundreds of NEU members take to the streets to celebrate Pride.
Pride celebrates a shot glass heard around the world. 51 years ago, during a police raid on the Stonewall Inn, Marsha P. Johnson started the Stonewall riots, a catalyst in the movement towards LGBT+ rights.
This year there have been protests against police brutality across the world. Has anyone else noticed the similarities between the Black Lives Matter movement and the Stonewall Riots? Both started by police brutality, led by people of colour, and struggling against institutional oppression. Stonewall began a march towards acceptance and liberation for the LGBT+ community. I hope BLM will be a historic step towards healing the deep scars in our communities.
Pride is a time to reflect on what we have achieved and where we go next. LGBT+ people have campaigned for equal rights, defeated Section 28, and won equal marriage. NEU members in schools and colleges around the country provide safe spaces for LGBT+ young people and colleagues, and contribute to the creation of a more equal, inclusive and caring society.
However, there are more obstacles ahead: challenges to meaningful Relationship and Sex Education (RSE); a colonised curriculum; and harmful debates about the rights of trans people.
- Last year saw demonstrations outside primary schools in Birmingham. Anti-RSE campaigners accused the schools of "proselytising homosexual way of life to children". In fact, the schools were reading to children about diverse families as part of a broad and balanced curriculum. The furore ended due to an injunction, but misinformation had already been spread.
In September, the new RSE framework becomes compulsory. Every NEU member committed to inclusive education must work together to ensure this curriculum is delivered safely and effectively.
- The effects of our colonial past continue to haunt all of us today. I grew up as a closeted Hindu British Asian. LGBT+ Asian identities were not represented in education or in wider LGBT+ culture. Asia’s rich history of LGBT+ inclusivity was erased by British colonialism to the point where even many Asians are unaware of this proud history. As educators we must be committed to representing true histories and diverse cultural legacies within our curriculum to enable us to reconcile with our colonial pasts and move towards a more liberated future.
- The rights of trans people are also facing new threats. The government have delayed long-awaited reforms to the Gender Recognition Act and have indicated they may reverse existing legal rights afforded to trans people under the 2010 Equality Act. Non-binary people still have no legal recognition leaving them also in a precarious position. We must campaign to protect both our trans colleagues and our trans students. We cannot expect them to thrive when their government is working against them.
51 years ago, a shot glass was flung in New York inspiring a movement that continues today. As trade unionists and as educators, as LGBT+ people and allies, together, we must keep up the fight for inclusive education systems that enable all workers and children to flourish and reach their potential. Together, we will win.