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Lesbian teacher gets award for teaching LGBT equality

Lesbian teacher Elly Barnes has been commended as an ‘inspiration’ for making her school a centre for LGBT tolerance in UK schools
Elly Barnes (second from right) with friends at London Pride 2012.

A British lesbian teacher has received ‘high commendations’ in a UK teaching awards ceremony for her campaign to end homophobia in schools.

Elly Barnes of Stoke Newington School, London, was highly commended in the: ‘most inspirational teacher category’, in the Times Educational Supplement (TES) award.

Barnes, a music teacher at Stoke Newington, organised the school’s annual Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender History Month in 2005, and has encouraged more schools around London to get involved.

She is also the National Schools Representative for SchoolsOUT, an organization campaigning to make schools a safe place for LGBT students and teachers.

‘In the current climate in schools, it is thrilling to know that equalities are being recognised by teaching professionals for their importance in educating our children,’ Barnes said at the ceremony.

In February 2012, UK education watchdog Ofsted, published a report on the impact Barnes’s work has had on her school and the local education system. The report can be viewed in full on the Stoke Newington School’s Ofsted page.

London's Hackney council has also commended her for outstanding teaching on acceptance of LGBT people.

‘We began our LGBT history month in 2005 as a response to the students’ widespread use of homophobic language in and out of the classroom,’ Barnes said in the Ofsted report.

‘The project grew into a whole-school, community and national event each February.’

Barnes’s commendation follows reports from Ofsted and Stonewall which highlight continuing homophobic abuse in schools. Both organisations say lessons should be organized to teach students on equality and history of LGBT movements.

Ofsted has chosen Stoke Newington School as a center of ‘best practise’ on the teaching of LGBT topics.

The success of Barnes at the TES awards tells schools on the importance of LGBT friendly school policies and the high importance of tackling homophobia.

More information on Barnes’s LGBT history month course can be found at her website.
 

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