How do children learn about difference? They learn from their experiences and by who surrounds them.
Through our teacher training and resource program we recognize that those students in multi-cultural areas have a much greater understanding of difference as they are surrounded by people of different cultures, faiths, disabilities, genders, sexual orientations and gender identities.
Creating visibility around these differences increases understanding, acceptance and ‘usualizes’ diversity as a whole in our communities.
Young people understand oppression. We educate our young people about human rights and discrimination using examples of the Black Civil Rights movement and women’s suffrage.
It is utterly ludicrous to young people now that black and white people were segregated and women were not able to vote.
Education is key to eradicating all forms of discrimination including those of different gender and sexual diversities.
The proposed Manchester LGBT school has good intentions of creating a safe-space for LGBT people and community groups, this is a necessary response to the growing need for LGBT youth provision in light of council cuts.
However, a proposed ‘school’ for LGBT students is not the solution to decreasing the high levels of HBT bullying in our schools, as segregating students who are perceived to be different only serves to make them the victim and does not allow mainstream schools to effectively implement their inclusion policies.
Making ALL schools LGBT-Friendly is the solution. Giving all teachers, staff and parents the confidence, training and resources to change ingrained attitudes and make positive institutional change; this is the way forward to achieving social justice in the education system.
The root of the problem is lack of education around LGBT law, people and history in our schools. When schools adopt an LGBT-Inclusive curriculum, then the bullying is eradicated. Bullying is the end product of ignorance and invisibility.
The key is to make LGBT-Friendly schools though delivering training to all staff, updating policies, creating resources for an LGBT-Inclusive curriculum, increasing visibility in the environment and engaging the community in events.
This strategy has been proven to equip teachers to deal effectively with HBT [homophobic, biphobic, transphobic] bullying in line with Ofsted criteria and fully advocates for all in our school communities to be treated equally and fairly according to the Equality Act 2010.
All our schools can be safe-spaces for everyone through adopting an LGBT-Inclusive curriculum. We know the answer is integration when after receiving training a teacher delegate reports from their school, ‘A real sense of solidarity, a mutual goal and being part of something bigger.’
Elly Barnes is the CEO and Founder of Educate & Celebrate.