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The Reading Roadshow’s purpose is to combat anti-LGBTI bullying. The decision to launch this program came after Amazon commissioned a study by YouGov. The study found that anti-LGBTI bullying was the most common form of bullying in UK secondary schools. The study surveyed 1,000 teachers and found that 71% of them have witnessed homophobic bullying. Additionally, 35% of those teachers witness this kind of bullying at least once a month.
The Reading Roadshow program will feature inclusivity workshops and provide educators with free, expert-approved LGBTI literature.
‘Diversity and inclusion can make everybody stronger. Benefiting communities, schools and across society as a whole,’ said Simon Johnson, the UK Country Manager for Books at Amazon. Johnson is also an executive sponsor of the Amazon LGBTI employee affinity group.
‘So by meeting positive role models, running workshops which tackle the causes of bullying and opening young minds to literature that challenges stereotypes, we hope the LGBT+ Reading Roadshow has a positive impact on students and builds on the existing work of schools.’
The Roadshow will travel to participating schools throughout the country to discuss issues of discrimination facing LGBTI students. The first school the Roadshow visited was Petchey Academy in East London. Here, musician Will Young spoke with students about anti-LGBTI discrimination.
Staff from Amazon and volunteers from Just Like Us joined Young in playing games and listening to music with the students, who were offered the chance to win a prize from Amazon’s Treasure Truck.
Why Will Young is participating
‘Thirty years ago, when I was at school, talking about LGBT+ issues or even reading these books in school would have been illegal,’ Young said. ‘It was only 16 years ago that Section 28 was abolished – when many of these young people were just toddlers. Even today, young people still suffer from LGBT+ bullying and barriers to being their authentic selves.’
‘That’s why it’s great that Amazon is visiting schools across the country to show young people that being true to themselves is an enabler, not a barrier, to their future.’
Schools participating in the Reading Roadshow program receive a free box of books for their libraries. The box features age-appropriate titles about LGBTI inclusion and the experiences of LGBTI people.