When Section 28 of the Local Government Act that outlawed education on LGBT+ issues, came into effect in England and Wales on the 24th May 1988 it had an impact on the lives of many young people, that is still being felt to this day, despite the Act being repealed in 2003. The act cast a long shadow, and occasionally through my position with LGBT+ education charity Diversity Role Models I encounter teachers unsure or worried about how to bring LGBT+ inclusive education into their classroom.
Thankfully, we are now seeing a shift. England has seen positive steps towards LGBT+ inclusion recently with the introduction of LGBT+ inclusive RSE in 2020/21 and Scotland introducing guidance in 2021. As a Wales based educator and youth worker, I am eagerly looking forward to the trials of an inclusive RSE curriculum in the nation later this year (2021) with a projected roll out sometime in mid-2022.
Being a nation with a large rural population, the isolation that young LGBT+ people in those areas experience is often a real and present harm to the well-being of our young people. There can also be a lack of localised LGBT+ youth and peer support in rural areas. This only adds to the urgent need to support the health and wellbeing of these young people by providing inclusive education in Welsh schools as soon as possible.
A learning environment where LGBT+ identities are still not often visible, represented and accepted in parity with the heterosexual and cisgender communities mean that for many students it sends a negative and damaging message that their families, identities and relationships are wrong or invalid. It also creates a space where the lack of education representing those families and identities propagates misinformation and allows negative stereotypes to flourish. This leads to bullying and discrimination towards LGBT+ students and staff.
Schools and local authorities still receive challenges from groups opposed to the delivery of inclusive RSE within our schools. Many of these challenges are loaded with language and rhetoric only too familiar to those who remember the campaign that resulted in the enactment of Section 28. These challenges should be seen as a warning from history, a reminder that we cannot return to those times. Every student has the right to an education where they feel included and supported, where they have the same opportunity for learning as others, without fear of discrimination.
Kate Hutchison, Regional Officer of Diversity Role Models
Diversity Role Models Head of Education, Jac Bastian, will explore the importance of creating an LGBT+ inclusive learning environment and share the tools and resources needed for you to build your own pathway to LGBT+ inclusion. Through powerful personal stories, challenging scenarios and sharing practical tips, tools and resources you will leave the session equipped to create a clear action plan to take back to your school.
Originally from Swansea, Jac is passionate about grassroots activism and campaigning. He has worked at Diversity Role Models for nearly four years and in that time has trained thousands of staff members, delivered workshops to students at every phase and created a range of teaching resources on LGBT+ inclusion.
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