People do their best – and thrive the best – when they can be their authentic selves and LGBT students are no different in this respect. Homo- and transphobic bullying and unacceptable use of language can negatively impact the student experience and thus impacts on LGBT students’ capacity to do as well as they are able.
Stonewall have been working to tackle homophobic bullying and unacceptable use of language in primary and secondary schools for a number of years, and the following excerpt from the 2009 Teachers Report gives examples of how teachers across different disciplines have tackled these issues. It is hoped that through sharing these experiences, more people working in educational institutions will feel confident to tackle homophobic bullying and unacceptable use of language themselves.
The excerpt covers experiences gathered around:
Challenging homophobic language
‘We spoke about how homophobia was the same as racial abuse and is prejudice.’ Sam, teacher, secondary school (West Midlands).
Including LGBT issues in the classroom
‘It is time for a major initiative to tackle issues, including homophobia, in schools as part of the national curriculum rather than as a whim of each head teacher.’ Yasmin, teacher, secondary school (Yorkshire and the Humber).
I teach Film Studies and constantly foreground issues of gender representation: perhaps because the question interests me and I like to challenge the possible prejudices of my students. I deliberately select films that address sexuality. So I teach My Summer of Love, Show Me Love, Together, Mysterious Skin, Victim, Sunday Bloody Sunday… I think the most recent example would be a screening and discussion/analysis of Mysterious Skin, but it is a regular feature of my classes and courses.’ Stan, teacher, secondary school (East Midlands).
Tackling religion and homophobia.
‘The matter came up; I discussed the issue in terms of all human beings having differences and similarities, that some people held religious beliefs about homosexual acts, but that those beliefs also included the concepts of compassion. I finished with comments along the lines of homosexuality doesn’t mean that someone should not be treated with the same respect anyone else should receive.’ Louis, teacher, secondary school (London).
The report notes only 1 in 25 secondary school teachers who have addressed gay issues in their classrooms say they had a negative reaction from students. 3 in 4 report a positive reaction from their pupils. 95% of secondary school teachers who have addressed these issues say they would do so again.
Download the excerpt and read further examples by clicking here: Homophobic bullying and unacceptable language – secondary school experiences