Why are schools important and why is LGBT History Month important for schools?
Schools have a crucial role in educating for equality. They have a responsibility to every pupil to ensure a safe and secure learning environment in which they can thrive. They have a responsibility to all pupils to prepare them for adult life in the real world.
A key part of doing this is to ensure that the culture of our schools is inclusive and welcoming. Countering the prevalent assumption that everyone represented in the curriculum (including the hidden curriculum) is heterosexual becomes essential.
Failure in these respects will have consequences both for pupils and schools. These are described in an article by Tim Lucas, chair of the National Union of Teachers LGBT Committee, written for the Spring 2004 edition of The NUT Education Review (Volume 17 No 2), the typescript of which we reproduce here by kind permission of the Editor (opens a Word document).
You can find LGBT History Month lesson and assembly suggestions for schools here.
Reasons Why LGBT History Month benefits the whole school community
- Lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people have a role in history which everyone needs to know;
- We need LGBT people from the past and the present day to provide role models for young people;
- We need to celebrate ourselves as motivators, inventors, artists, scientists and stars, rather than as victims;
- Young people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or trans will benefit from the increased self-esteem and safety they will gain. And in turn they will be more likely to continue successfully with their education and to become happy and healthy adults, and less likely to suffer from violence, depression, and suicide;
- Even though LGBT pupils, teachers and parents are in the minority, the majority of young people have a lesbian, gay, bisexual or trans family member or family friend. When homophobia flourishes, all of these young people have to hide something about their background, with consequent damage to their self-esteem and thus their educational achievement;
- Violence flourishes in a homophobic atmosphere, and education really suffers when neither the pupils nor the teachers feel safe and secure. Tackling homophobia and transphobia will make the entire school environment safer for everyone, and so improve educational achievement throughout the community;
- Britain has the highest teenage pregnancy rate in Europe, and teenage parents are the least likely to finish their education successfully. Research shows that unwanted pregnancy is very closely linked to a lack of openness generally about sexuality. So if we can use LGBT History month to help to create an atmosphere where sexuality is not linked to fear, silence and abuse, both heterosexual and LGBT students will benefit.