Following successful experiences in the UK, Schools Out is sending its campaigners abroad to exchange ideas and experiences with other educators and students about challenging homophobia in the classroom.
The organisation for lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans equality in education uses training tools to combat homophobia and institutional heterosexism.
National rep for Schools Out Elly Barnes will be speaking at the LGBT Individuals and Social Rights International Conference in Istanbul on 31 March. Barnes was recently voted number one on the Pink List 2011 for influential lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in the British Independent newspaper.
In an interview with the Telegraph she said that pupils ask if she’s trying to turn them gay. Her responseis : ‘Do you turn black during Black History Month or Turkish during Turkish month?’
Co-chair of Schools OUT Tony Fenwick said: ‘There is a sea-change in schools throughout Europe as it dawns on people that the place to combat homophobia and transphobia is in the classroom.’
Fenwick will be attending a film festival in Norway next month to encourage equality education in lesson plans around Europe. Teachers in countries like China and Turkey have already downloaded the lesson plans.
Students, staff, parents, and legislators can receive diversity training that enables them to deal with situations like coming out, homophobic bullying and the derogatory use of slang terms for lesbians and gays. Schools Out also offers gay, bi and trans students an online tool kit that includes relevant aspects from a number of British laws to show students their rights.
Schools Out's mission statement is adamant about eliminating discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in the domain of education: ‘Equality does not come through legislation and registration alone. It also requires a change of culture – the culture of our society and, more particularly, the culture of our schools and colleges.’