Guest Post: Making LGBT content integral to your teaching (Part 1)

The Key
The Key
According to Stonewall's 2017 School Report, 45% of LGBT pupils experience homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying at school or college – but 40% have never been taught anything about LGBT issues at school, and 77% have never learned about gender identity. Holly Green, Education Programmes Manager at Stonewall tells us what schools can do when it comes to LGBT inclusion.

How can you make LGBT specific content integral to your teaching?
The most effective schools and colleges we work with adopt a whole-school approach to inclusion. Inclusion works best when it’s an integral part of a school’s community life and there are a number of ways you can incorporate LGBT content into your teaching.

We recommend starting by carrying out an audit of your curriculum to see what you’re already doing to support learning about LGBT issues and where you could make improvements. Our Inclusive Curriculum Guide for secondary schools, available to Stonewall School Champions, is a fantastic starting point, and we have a similar resource for primary schools coming soon. When it comes to LGBT inclusion, ‘quick fixes’ can be a great starting point for building meaningful change. You don’t need to overhaul an entire subject: instead, think about where you can make fast but effective alterations to the way you do things. When you’re talking statistics in maths, can you use stats from our Stonewall School Report about the experiences of LGBT young people for your examples? When you’re planning IT lessons or science lessons on coding or computing, can you focus on Alan Turing as a way into exploring the subject? In your art lessons, can you use the self-portraiture of Frida Kahlo as a way to explore identity, as well as introducing students to Kahlo as a bi role model?

In all of your subjects, try to keep an eye on the language you use: for instance, make examples and case studies inclusive by referring to LGBT people and families. You don’t always need to buy new resources to do this work. Have a look at our Teachers’ Report to learn more about the links between gender stereotypes and homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying, then find examples of books in your school library where characters or storylines challenge gender stereotypes – how can you use these resources to start conversations with your students about the importance of celebrating difference? You can develop lots more ideas by booking a place on a Stonewall training course.

How can you ensure that LGBT teaching is age appropriate?
Stonewall work with schools and colleges of every age phase, all the way from Early Years to FE. This work can be done with children and young people of any age. Our Getting Started Toolkit for EYFS is a great resource to learn about building an inclusive pre-reception setting, and we’ve got equivalent resources for primary and secondary too. We recommend schools start with the idea of celebrating different families: talk to children about the fact that everybody’s family is different, whether a child has a mum and a dad, a single mum or dad, a foster carer, grandparents who are the main carers, two mums, two dads, or any other version of a caring family unit! LGBT families are one kind of different family, but everybody’s family is different and special in its own way. This is a great way to help students begin to understand and embrace the idea that difference is something we all have in common and should be celebrated as part of what makes us who we are.

With older children, learning about LGBT role models can be a great starting point for LGBT inclusive teaching. Make sure your classroom displays feature LGBT role models and highlight role models in units of work for individual subjects. Secondary Stonewall School Champions who’ve attended our training courses can apply for a Role Model Visit, when an LGBT speaker will visit your school to talk about their experiences growing up as an LGBT person. We know that schools can sometimes feel nervous about using the right kind of language when having conversations with children about LGBT inclusion, but we’ve got plenty of resources to help with this – our Getting Started toolkits each contain a glossary of terms for teachers, along with a glossary of child-friendly explanations that you can use as they are, or adapt for your context.

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