When is a Humanist not a Humanist?

Paul Hedges, author of Towards Better Disagreement, considers asylum, philosophy and human rights in light of the recent situation with Hamza bin Walayat.

If somebody asked you to prove what you believed – whether that is belief in a religion like Christianity, Islam, or Buddhism, or a non-religious stance such as atheism or Humanism – how would you do it? Maybe you would mention how many times you go to church or meetings, mention your membership of particular organisations or communities, or show you have a lot of knowledge about your tradition, movement, or belief system.

Facing Death Threats and Asylum

This was the situation that faced Hamza bin Walayat, except for him it was not an idle exercise about his Humanism. Rather, it was an asylum hearing where he had to prove to the authorities that he was a Humanist or face deportation back to Pakistan from where he had received death threats.

In February 2018, Walayat met with British immigration officials, who questioned him on his knowledge of Humanism. According to the report on his hearing, because he was not able to identify Plato and Aristotle as Humanist philosophers his asylum claim was denied. The case has gathered both national and international support, and the British Humanist Association in particular has garnered support for him to seek to overturn the decision. A petition of over twelve thousand signatures was delivered to the Prime Minister at Downing Street, while an open letter was written to the Home Secretary Amber Rudd signed by over fifty philosophers and academics across the country.

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“Being a transgender professional gives me a very unique insight into issues that young people face.” Talking to trans youth worker, Matt Waites

There is currently a lack of information available regarding the specific needs of young transgender men, and the barriers that they face. This can lead to professionals having to give generic advice, which may not be appropriate for the situation. Written to address this shortfall, Matt Waites’ new book provides professionals with the guidance they need to effectively and supportively work with young transgender men. We spoke to him about his reasons for writing it. 




What led you to start writing Supporting Young Transgender Men?

Through my personal experience of being trans and my professional experience of working with young people, I found that there was a huge gap in knowledge and understanding in terms of processes of transition and issues that trans men face, due to a lack of specialised training and availability of information. I conducted some research which found 50% of professionals surveyed felt they did not have enough knowledge or confidence to support a transgender young man through their transition. Frontline professionals are best placed to serve the transgender community because the social and medical transition processes are not holistic in practice. There is a lack of available support for trans people in general, therefore by ensuring that frontline professionals in a variety of sectors have access to the right knowledge and information, they can improve outcomes for transgender men, reduce suicide rates and ensure that trans men are given quality support when they need it the most. These issues led me to write Supporting Young Transgender men because it is an area that I feel very passionate about. If professionals have the right knowledge when supporting their service users, young people will be more like to be able to reach their full potential.

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LGBT+ inclusive lesson plans for secondary school teachers

Draw on youth culture to encourage participation in positive social change

Educate & Celebrate engages with accessible youth currencies to stimulate the link between LGBT+ people and popular culture using book collections, YouTube links, videos
and songs. Lesson plans draw on teenagers’ sense of justice, giving opportunities for student critique of current political and social issues and empowering them to create ‘a society which reacts angrily to any case of injustice and promptly sets about correcting it.’ Our intention is to give permission for our young people to join us on the journey to institutional change where recognition of discrimination through the protected characteristics is encouraged.

Some of the secondary schools we have worked with introduced and enhanced their Educate & Celebrate programme of curriculum with key moments in the school calendar, including:
• year group assemblies
• visiting speakers
• impact days focusing on equalities
• in the library, the schools provided LGBT+ inclusive literature – both fact and fiction – and highlighted these with a display at key points on the calendar such as Anti- Bullying Week and LGBT History Month.

LGBT+ lesson plans

(Full plans and resources are available on the Educate & Celebrate website)

Key Stage 3 French – Name the colours on the Rainbow Pride Flag and talk about what they mean: red for life, orange for healing, yellow for the sun, green for nature, turquoise blue for art, indigo for harmony and violet for spirit. Listen to the song ‘Ziggy’ by Celine Dion. This is about a heterosexual woman who is in love with a gay man. See how many words you can catch and translate. Analyse the text to understand the words used to describe Ziggy and how her friendship with him is different.

Key Stage 4 ICT – To understand the concept of the binary system in computing, discuss the meaning of ‘binary’ in different contexts, understanding that human gender is not binary. Students can learn to add eight binary numbers and be able to explain the words that describe different genders.

Key Stage 5 PE – Look at the golden triangle of success in professional sports – sport, media and sponsorship – and discuss how this idea of success might be implemented in the case of an LGBT+ footballer.

For more activities for secondary school teachers, check out  How to Transform Your School into an LGBT+ Friendly Place by Dr Elly Barnes MBE and Dr Anna Carlile. 

Follow this link for more LGBT+ inclusive books for use in the classroom. 

Follow us on Facebook @JKPGenderDiversity and Twitter @JKPBooks for more exclusive content from our LGBT books and authors. 

How can primary school teachers make their schools feel LGBT+ friendly?

The importance of an inclusive environment

Your aim is to increase the visibility of LGBT+ people, issues and equality by utilising the all-powerful, accessible tool of the physical environment. In this way, you can make information widely available to all stakeholders (staff, governors, pupils and parents) to stimulate conversation.

Considering the environment enables the process of change to flow into the corridors, classrooms, reception areas, school hall, staffroom, social media and publicity. Your plan is to make the entire physical environment a safe space through visible displays and key words in prominent areas and teaching spaces, for everyone to experience.

How to make your environment LGBT+ friendly

  • Decide on a key message, like ‘We Educate and Celebrate!’
  • Link displays to your curriculum
  • Get the children and young people to participate in choosing and creating display content
  • Don’t forget the internet as well as your school’s physical walls
  • Make a real impact on visitors and potential families in your institution’s reception area

3 examples that primary school teachers can implement

1. A positive poster in the reception area affirming LGBT+ identities can make a huge difference to the confidence, productivity and self-esteem of a parent or staff member.

2. A primary school in a rural area in the north of England has an electronic message on the digital signing-in station in the reception area, stating: ‘Our school welcomes everyone from all walks of life. Everyone must welcome and celebrate others in our school.’ The visitor then has the choice to ‘accept’ or ‘not accept’. If they do not accept, then they cannot gain access to the school. Each visitor who accepts then receives a printed lanyard with an equality statement mounted on a rainbow background. The theme continues on the wall, with a flag display representing all the different nationalities of students, with a Rainbow Flag among them showing an intersectional approach to the school’s equality agenda.

3. Don’t forget how uniform and uniform policies can impact on your school environment. A gender-neutral uniform can really send a message out about how all children, regardless of the gender roles imposed on them, have the right to express their gender as they need to.

For more activities for primary school teachers, check out  How to Transform Your School into an LGBT+ Friendly Place by Dr Elly Barnes MBE and Dr Anna Carlile. 

Follow this link for more LGBT+ inclusive books for use in the classroom. 

Follow us on Facebook @JKPGenderDiversity and Twitter @JKPBooks for more exclusive content from our LGBT books and authors. 

How to make your nursery gender neutral: activities for early years teachers

How can you develop an LGBT+ inclusive curriculum at the early years phase?

What are we saying to our children and young people through our curriculum? What messages are they receiving through what we teach and the activities we provide?

Once you start to notice the discrepancy between your curriculum and the diversity of the real world, you won’t be able to stop! For example, in your nursery, do you set up the table of cars and trucks with the boys in mind?

Our research shows that the roots of homophobia, biphobia and transphobia are deeply fixed within perceptions of gender. For example, being a lesbian means falling outside the social expectations of what it means to be female; or having a gay dad can mean a child experiences bullying because their family does not fit the usual gender roles people expect. If all the stories in your book corner show children with a mum and a dad, those who live with a grandparent, foster carer, or LGBT+ parented family might feel that their family is not important. Children put in this position can find themselves unhappy because they or their families don’t fit within expected gender roles.

Here are some gender-neutral activities that nursery school teachers can employ to develop an LGBT+ inclusive curriculum at the early years phase.

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Giving Children a Voice – Extract

How do you ensure that children’s voices and ideas are heard and valued in relation to the settings that form part of their everyday lives?

Presenting an easy to adopt step-by-step framework, this book argues in favour of children’s potential to advocate for themselves, in contrast to the current model in which adults take full control and advocate on the child’s behalf. By honouring and harnessing the involvement and contributions of children, social workers and education professionals will be able to improve their daily practice and positively transform key spaces within society to create environments where children experience a sense of belonging and purpose, full of potential benefits for both adults and children. Practical at its core, the book has wide applications, from examining the place of children in legal matters, such as divorce, through to the child’s engagement in decisions about their education. International case studies reveal how the model works in practice and encourages children’s voices and their participation.

Sam Frankel, author of Giving Children a Voice, is Creative Director of EquippingKids. He is Honorary Research Fellow University of Sheffield and part-time faculty at Kings at University of Western Ontario, Canada. Publications include Streetwise (JKP, 2009).

The book is broken down into three parts; the introduction, part 1 and part 2. Part 1 covers creating a climate for change through revitalised thinking and being spatially aware. Part 2 covers turning rhetoric into reality through speaking the right language, creating opportunities and leading the change. The below extract, taken from the introduction, covers creating a culture for advocacy.

Click here to read the extract.

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School Readiness and the Characteristics of Effective Learning

School ReadinessTamsin Grimmer explores the concept of school readiness by unpicking what the term means for children in her new book School Readiness and the Characteristics of Effective Learning, here is a synopsis of what you can expect from the book taken from the introduction.

Children’s firsts are celebrated around the world. The first smile, the first wave, the first time they crawl, walk, or talk and one hugely celebrated milestone, the first time they go to school.

When we consider the phrase ‘school readiness’ and its use and misuse in policy and practice, we perhaps open up a can of worms. There are conflicting views over definitions and the term provokes strong feelings. It is my hope that my book will play its part in the debate and ensure that the views of practitioners, parents and most importantly children are taken into account. It will offer parents ideas of how to support children at home prior to starting school, as well as practitioners in settings and schools. It aims to keep children central to the discussion because they are, after all, the ones who will be starting school.

The transition into school for the first time requires children to cope with many changes. They will have hugely different expectations placed upon them, major changes in their daily routine and changes in their learning environment. This necessitates children to have within them the ability to cope with these challenges and display attributes such as self-confidence and resilience to name but two. Continue reading

Creating Autism Champions

With Autism Awareness Week just around the corner, we are delighted to tell you about an innovative resource by Joy Beaney entitled Creating Autism Champions. Here, Joy explains what has inspired the book, and what can be done to increase awareness of and sensitivity towards children with autism.

autism champions

What made you want to write Creating Autism Champions?

I believe that we need to develop children who are aware of the various needs of people with autism and how they can work, grow and play together rather than putting the onus on those with autism to ‘fit in’ with school and society.

I worked as Manager of an Outreach Service supporting children with autism in mainstream Primary schools.  A major part of the work as an outreach service for children with autism was to promote inclusion. The outreach team delivered staff training to raise awareness of autism and recommended practical strategies and approaches to support children with autism. These practical strategies were designed to help the children themselves, as well as their teachers and caregivers. However, whilst these strategies undoubtedly helped the children to cope with the day-to-day problems of coping in school, we found that when the children with autism reached 8 or 9 years of age, new issues emerged surrounding the difficulties they had with social acceptance. We undertook a peer awareness project in local schools developing understanding and changing attitudes to autism so that children could become ‘champions for autism’ and support their peers both in the classroom and playground.

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Be Free From Anorexia and Happy With Your Body


Kim Marshall, author of How to Kiss Goodbye to Ana, has personal experience of anorexia and bulimia and used EFT in her own recovery. She is an AAMET-Certified EFT practitioner and founder of Kiss Goodbye to Ana, helping people in their recovery from anorexia. Here, she writes about her own experiences and how you can be happy with yourself. 

When I was struggling with anorexia it felt like I was trapped in the deepest darkest well, with no chink of light shining through. I felt alone and scared. A part of me wanted to escape, but another part wanted to stay, because it felt safe.

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