Guest Post: Making LGBT content integral to your teaching (Part 2)

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.

Do you have any tips for tackling homophobic, biphobic or transphobic language?
52% of LGBT pupils hear homophobic language ‘frequently or often’ in their schools or colleges, 36% hear biphobic language and 46% hear transphobic language. The most important thing is to convey a clear message to your school or college community that HBT language is unacceptable. Our Tackling HBT Bullying and Language Course spends a whole day helping schools and colleges develop various approaches to this work, but our advice is to ensure your staff take a consistent approach to challenging HBT language whenever you hear it, even when it’s used as a joke. If staff don’t know what to say, spend some time as a whole staff group or in your department teams planning model responses together. Use role plays or case studies to help you imagine a real life scenario and practise what you’d do and say. It’s important to make sure everyone is sending the same clear message that HBT language is not tolerated at your school or college, because your learning environment is a place where everybody has the right to be who they are.

How can schools and colleges provide the best support for trans young people?
School is a formative time for all young people, and every school or college environment should be a space where students feel secure enough to explore and express who they are. We know that school can sometimes be tough for young trans people. 44% of trans young people tell us that their teachers don’t know what the term ‘trans’ means, and 33% tell us they’re not able to be known by their preferred name at school or college. 58% of young trans people tell us that they’re not able to use the toilets that they want to use in school. Alongside these worrying figures, more than 84% of trans young people we spoke to in our 2017 School Report said that they had self-harmed at some point, and more than 45% had attempted suicide. We know that when young trans people are supported at school or college, the positive benefits for their mental health and emotional well being are huge.

In order for trans pupils to thrive at school it’s essential that teachers and other staff know how to provide the right support. What that looks like depends very much on the pupil you’re supporting, and our best practice advice is always to be led by the young person. In line with a child-centred approach to education, when a pupil tells you that they are or might be trans, place their needs at the centre of your work with them. You’ll need to listen carefully to what they’re telling you they need and keep an open and respectful dialogue with them. Above all, continue to build a school or college environment where every pupil knows they have the right to be themselves.

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