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