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NEU LGBT+ inclusion charter

The NEU LGBT+ charter is a clear, practical, hands-on guide for how educators might initiate work on LGBT+ equality, develop their approach further or add to what they do already.


Why a charter?

Since the abolition of Section 28 in 2003, there has been an opportunity for schools/colleges to openly recognise that LGBT+ students are in every classroom and have thoughts and feelings about their own development and the relationships they have with their peers and with staff.

It has opened up a chance to consider and re-evaluate the curriculum in an exciting, innovative and contemporary way. In the 21st century, it is important that this aspect of student experience is taken seriously in the life of a school/ college.

The charter aims to help schools/ colleges to:

  • celebrate where there is already good practice in schools.
  • educate and support schools in making positive change.
  • protect everyone in the workplace – students and staff.

Using the charter

The NEU LGBT+ charter is a clear, practical, hands-on guide for how educators might initiate work on LGBT+ equality, develop their approach further or add to what they do already.

Everyone is aware of the number of demands that are made on schools/colleges today and this charter is intended to be a supportive guide to action rather than a list of commands made on overworked education staff. It is a collection of ideas that has sprung out of discussion, debate and the practice of LGBT+ staff in the union. It is a practical tool that can be used in school/college meetings to initiate discussion and discuss ways forward. It is succinct because it is a guide to practice, not a philosophical essay.

The charter is organised into three sections:

  • school ethos
  • curriculum
  • practical steps.

The ideas included create a starting point for discussion that any group of staff can consider whether school leaders, SLT, governors, year teams, department groups, union groups or anyone concerned about the experience of LGBT+ students and the education of all students in their schools/ colleges. The charter should be revisited regularly as staff and senior leaders change and LGBT+ school/college policy and ethos develops.

Some schools/colleges have already used the charter and have adapted the ideas included into their policies and everyday practice. This has improved the school/college experience for students and staff. It is useful as a tool to create an overview of practice as well as creating an opportunity for change and development.

Sharing good practice is important and we would like to hear back if you use the charter in your workplace. We would be keen to hear about changes you make to teaching and learning, curriculum or other policies which occur as a result – [email protected]

Schools/colleges have varying levels of confidence over LGBT+ issues in education for different reasons.

However, one of the principles that this charter is dedicated to achieving is that every school and college needs to reflect and respect the lives of LGBT+ students and staff in some form.

This is an opportunity for educators and schools/colleges to move on from where they are and improve the LGBT+ ethos and practice for all students.

THE NEU LGBT+ charter is a chance to start or to develop that conversation where you work.

School/college ethos – discussion points

This section features a set of ideas that can be considered in terms of school/college policy as well as discussion points for educators to consider how current practice reflects some of the aims that they might have for LGBT+ students and their peer groups.

As a school/college, we:

  • recognise that all members of the school/college body – staff and students, parents and governors – should have the right to feel safe and protected in our school environment, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity. 
  • recognise that all members of the school/college body – students and staff – should feel empowered to be able to be open about their sexual orientation and/or their gender identity without fear of bullying, stigma or ridicule from other students or staff.
  • understand that we want our LGBT+ students to feel respected, accepted and understood.
  • acknowledge that silence or stigma around LGBT+ people is a form of inequality which is contrary to the values of an inclusive education.
  • will actively encourage and promote the visibility of LGBT+ students and staff, and develop a sense of pride in LGBT+ identities. 
  • agree to place LGBT+ discrimination, bullying or name-calling on the same footing as racism, sexism and disablism, and to encourage students to link an understanding of LGBT+ oppression with other forms of oppression such as misogyny and racism. 
  • will report and record all incidents of LGBT+ phobic bullying and encourage a culture where reporting is seen as important in creating the right climate and expectations for students
  • agree to use inclusive language for trans and non-binary students and teachers
  • agree to commit to challenging sexism and gender stereotypes across the curriculum and to tackle outdated ideas about men’s and women’s abilities and achievements, understanding that sexist and homophobic ideas and opinions reinforce each other.

So we are responsive to, and representative of, our students and local community, we:

  • will elect one governor responsible for equalities issues in the school/college
  • will include LGBT+ inclusion as a theme within curriculum review and development
  • agree to include positive statements about LGBT+ equality in our whole school/ college policies including in the equality policy, the anti-bullying policy and the harassment policy
  • will develop a policy on support and inclusion for trans and non-binary students and staff so they can thrive and succeed in our school/college.

Curriculum – discussion points

This section addresses the content of lessons and schemes of work, but also contains ideas about curriculum delivery, curriculum design and the overall aims of a school/college curriculum for LGBT+ students and their peers.

We will review and use our curriculum to support positive attitudes on the student body, by:

  • including LGBT+ training as part of annual Insets and staff meetings
  • making LGBT+ History Month an annual event in February under the banner of one LGBT+/Progress Pride flag (including black and brown colours)
  • making links with LGBT+ oppression in Black History Month in October, UK Disability History Month in November/ December, Islamophobia Awareness Month in November, International Women’s Day in March and Trans Day of Visibility/Trans Day of Remembrance in March and November.
  • widening the use of classroom texts and library texts so that more of them are LGBT+ inclusive
  • curriculum mapping for LGBT+ and other equalities issues to create a consciously diverse curriculum, with regular reviews
  • supporting school/college curriculum leaders to embed LGBT+ representation in the curriculum, and to reflect about their subject and how it can promote positive attitudes through creative activities on tackling prejudice or stigma
  • using relationships and sex education (RSE) across school age groups to promote respect and dignity for LGBT+ people and all relationships and families, and to highlight that trans and non-binary bodies can be seen positively
  • to usualise the everyday existence of LGBT+ people through referencing them across all subjects in the curriculum.

Practical steps – discussion points

This section is a collection of good practice that NEU LGBT+ members have suggested. Some of these suggestions might provide a good starting point for schools/colleges if you do not already have that much LGBT+ inclusive work in place.

We will take practical steps such as:

  • adopting rainbow lanyards to create visual support for LGBT+ students and teachers developing LGBT+ student groups.
  • including assemblies on LGBT+ representation and the struggles and campaigns in different decades such as Section 28, linked to local/regional history and pioneering figures from this area.
  • reviewing uniforms and dress codes to ensure these are not reinforcing gender stereotypes, are comfortable for students, and will promote physical activity and participation in PE for all students.
  • ensuring some gender-neutral toilets are available for the students and staff who wish to use gender-neutral facilities.
  • using positive images of LGBT+ students in materials used across the school/ college and by the school/ college in a public context to usualise the existence, contributions and histories of LGBT+ citizens.
  • developing practical support and positive values so students can be open about their sexual orientation and/or gender identity.
  • sharing good practice on LGBT+ issues with local schools/colleges or schools in our academy trust.
  • encouraging schools/colleges to act in partnership with organisations such as [Team Pride/Rainbow Laces] [ insert local LGBT+ youth group] and make students aware of local sources of support.
  • developing a consistent understanding of how trans and non-binary students and staff will be supported, including respecting name changes and pronouns.
  • conducting an attitude survey every [three] years to monitor the effectiveness of policies, student access and sense.
  • of belonging and pride in our school/college.


The union acknowledges the work of Michael Dance, previously a member of the union’s organising forum, who organised the 30 years since Section 28 conference, from which the ideas played a significant role in generating this charter.

Further resources

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LGBT+ inclusion

Guidance on LGBT+ inclusion for schools and colleges, for members, leaders, governors, councillors and community leaders.

People holding giant rainbow flag

LGBT+ equality

LGBT+ education professionals, pupils and families are vital members of all nursery, school and college communities and of our union.

Teenage school pupils in uniform

Dress code

What schools should consider if they decide to develop a school uniform/dress code.

Child's drawing

Breaking the Mould

The NEU worked with five primary schools over two years to consider how ‘traditional’ gender stereotypes could be challenged in nursery and primary classrooms.

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