Lots of us find our time at school difficult. It’s meant to be one of the best times of our lives, but in actual fact for many of us it’s one of the worst. School can be even harder if you’re part of the LGBTQ community. Evidence has shown that almost 50% of LGBTQ students are bullied in schools in the UK. This has led to many of these students dreading going to school or even avoiding school completely.
Schools need to work hard to support and speak up for students in the LGBTQ community. While some schools are starting to show the way in actively supporting these students, there’s still a lot of work that needs to be done. Here are some of the things schools can do to become more LGBTQ friendly:
There’s no better way to get LGBTQ individuals together than to host an event for them. From parties to cooking competitions, readings to dances, people in this community love the opportunity to get together and mingle.
Schools need to make sure that they don’t discriminate against potential employees who are part of the LGBTQ community. Everyone has the right to be treated without discrimination, particularly on the grounds of their sex, age, race or sexual orientation.
Employers also need to make sure that all of their employees are supported and given the same opportunities to improve their skills and knowledge. For example, if an LGBTQ employee is interested in SEN teacher training, then schools should support them with this. Show them that you’re willing to spend time and money helping them achieve their goals. This blog post from the University of Exeter online explains more about working with children who have complex needs, including speech and language difficulties, autism, physical difficulties, learning difficulties, sensory impairments or mental health needs. The more training you give your staff, the better prepared they are to support and take care of children within the school. After all, staff CPD is vital if we want to create a truly inclusive school environment.
Schools need to create an inclusive environment that not only supports the LGBTQ pupils and staff but also allows conversations about sexuality and gender. Schools should also consider including LGBTQ texts and books in the school library so that pupils can research and learn about the community themselves.
All schools need to challenge homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying and language. They need to make sure that they have the correct policies in place to support their LGBTQ employees and students.
Evidence has shown that gender stereotypes are not only damaging to those who don’t conform to them, but they can also be damaging to those who do. Whether said intentionally or not, gender stereotypes can have a negative effect on behaviour, attainment and aspirations, particularly in boys. Schools that challenge gender stereotypes can create a more inclusive learning environment for their students.
Schools should start talking about the LGBTQ community in classroom discussions. Talking about the history of the community is a brilliant way to teach children about how things are changing and what changes still need to be made.
Whether you’re splitting children into groups for break time or pairing students up for a class project, you should avoid instructing girls to go to one place and the boys to go to another. For some students, this subtle message may enforce the gender binary, while for others, it might be an alienating or deeply painful experience. Children often get enough of these messages in their lives, so they don’t need you to re-enforce them too.
The children in our schools will one day be running the country, so we need to teach them how to do things correctly. Forming LGBTQ groups is a great way for students and their friends to celebrate and promote diversity in their school, and it can help to build leadership skills and confidence.
No one should be bullied or victimized because of who they are or who they like. Schools around the world need to work harder than ever to make sure that their pupils are supported, safe and happy regardless of their sexual orientation. If you want to make your school more inclusive, then follow some of our top tips above.