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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‘My LGBT history’ – Sabrina Symington’s queerstory turning point

Sabrina Symington reflects on her LGBT history, and shares a pivotal moment in her past that influenced the way she lives her life now.

The turning point in my own Queerstory happened back when I used to teach martial arts professionally – something I experienced both in my old life, and after I transitioned.

In my old life, there was a kid among my students who was exploring their gender. Nothing revolutionary – just a change of name and attitude. Dealing with a case of “the genders” myself, I supported them every chance I could, and we became friends.

When I left that job to live and work in Thailand, my young friend cried and said “Why do you have to go away? You’re the best teacher here!”

While I was away, I somewhat unexpectedly began my own gender exploration and started transitioning to be my true self. Over there I could change myself in a state of safety, anonymity. Tucked away from the world I knew and that knew [old] me, and returning home unrecognizable to those who knew me before.

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Tackling homophobia in school? You need to start with your own language

Former teacher Jonathan Charlesworth explains how our confidence to provide support to someone ‘coming out’ or to stop, then prevent, homophobic name-calling or bullying all starts with having self-assurance about the words we use.

If you’re a school teacher, college tutor or university lecturer eager to support your pupils or students regarding sexual orientation matters, and keen to challenge homophobia or biphobia, may I suggest the best place to start is with vocabulary. I’ve worked for over thirty years in Education: as a teacher and successively as the Executive Director of Educational Action Challenging Homophobia. EACH was established to affirm LGBT+ people and help employers and institutions meet their legal and social responsibilities regarding homophobic, biphobic or transphobic bullying or harassment through training, consultancy and resources.

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Why is LGBT+ teacher training so important?

Dr Elly Barnes MBE is CEO and Founder of Educate & Celebrate, a leading charity who work with schools to transform them into being LGBT+ inclusive. She was voted #1 in The Independent on Sunday’s Rainbow List 2011. 

Who would like to live in a world where we are all treated equally and fairly?… Then let’s begin our journey to LGBT+Inclusion…

As teachers, we all have enough to do on a daily basis in our school already without adding in yet another initiative….which is exactly why at Educate & Celebrate we do not advocate that you write more lesson plans, but simply employ strategies that make LGBT+Inclusivity part of the fabric of school life.

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LGBT exclusion in politics – how far have we come?

Jennie Kermode reflects on the election of the UK’s first openly gay candidate, a historical moment in LGBT history, and considers the extent of homophobia and transphobia in politics today. How far have we really come?

Who will be the UK’s first trans MP? Labour has most big names in the running, with student Lily Madigan, comedian Eddie Izzard and TV presenter Sophie Cook all clear about their ambitions, whilst civil liberties campaigner Zoe O’Connell and former Trans Media Watch officer Helen Belcher are prominent in the Liberal Democrats, and Aimee Challenor has wide support in the Green Party. It may not happen at the next election or even the one after that, but it’s only a matter of time. Trans candidates report that the voters they speak to are less and less interested in their gender and simply want to know what they have to offer as potential representatives. Things were not always like this.

Back in the late ‘eighties, I was an active member of the Labour Party in Sheffield. I progressed from taking minutes for my local ward to sitting on the Housing Committee and working with members of the city council on a number of policy development issues, including insuring that the World Student Games, held there in 1991, left a lasting legacy for ordinary people who wanted to engage with sport. It was a challenging time to be in politics, especially on the left. Thatcherism was at its height and morale was low. The party was keen to make the most of what young talent it could attract and I was continually being encouraged to take on more. People saw me as a potential future MP. But there was a problem.

I was leading a double life. It might sound scandalous, but back then it was commonplace. In one life I wore suits, went to meetings, met elected officials and dignitaries, had discussions about strategy. In another I wore leathers, went to clubs whose names many in the city couldn’t speak without scowling, met women, had intimate encounters in toilets and alleyways with the mutual assurance that they would never be spoken of again. It wasn’t that I was appalled by the notion of settling down with a nice girl, but that seemed like a hopeless fantasy, and it would have met with an equal amount of social disdain.

I knew it couldn’t go on. One life or the other had to go. And I knew that if I chose politics, if I sacrificed my sexuality, there would still, always, be the risk of one of those women reappearing, or of somebody noticing my eyes linger on the wrong person for a fraction too long. Back then, suspicion was all it took to ruin a career. If I could be blackmailed, there was no promise I could ever make that I could be sure to keep, no means by which I could guarantee being able to stand by my principles. If I were exposed, it would all be over, and the people who had nurtured my career would consider me a traitor. This wasn’t just about political opponents and Clause 28. There was plenty of homophobia in Labour, too.

So, I left. There were other reasons, but more than anything it was that lack of hope, that sense that meaningful, respectable politics had no place for creatures like me. And then came 1997, and I was lying on the floor of my flat in Glasgow (part of what had coincidentally been Scotland’s first ever gay club), drinking Guinness with my American girlfriend, watching Michael Portillo (whom everybody in the scene knew was gay, though he was still in the closet and supporting anti-gay policies) lose his seat to the openly gay Stephen Twigg. It was an amazing moment. Twigg was seven years my senior, but he’d stuck it out, found the nerve somehow where I had not, made it happen. Still, I’ll never forget the look of astonishment on his face.

There are now 48 openly gay, lesbian or bisexual MPs in the House of Commons. Here in Scotland our elected party leaders include a lesbian and a bisexual man. Homophobia has not gone away, but candidates’ sexuality simply isn’t a consideration for most voters. Nevertheless, there remains a lot more open transphobia, and the hateful articles published in the Times and the Daily Mail over the past six months have reminded many people of the mass media homophobia that surrounded Clause 28. They have included a number of attacks on Lily Madigan, and have whipped up a storm of social media hatred which she found difficult to bear. This kind of attack is designed to say what those ‘eighties articles said to me: politics is no place for a creature like you.

Since the late ‘nineties I’ve been living openly as a non-binary person (something that was largely unheard of back in my party-political days). I now chair Trans Media Watch and work every day to educate journalists and work towards eradicating this kind of hate. I believe it can be done. What is painful is seeing other people’s ambitions destroyed in the meantime, and it is painful not just because of what it does to them, but because of what it does to society. People are always complaining about politicians who are in it for themselves and lack any real interest in serving the electorate. Nobody would endure being attacked like this just for themselves. These are people who have real passion and, often, a lot of talent – and all that is wasted if they are driven out of politics simply because of who they are.

We are all poorer when LGBT people are unable to fulfil their potential and contribute to society. This is true in politics and it’s true in the workplace where, a recent Stonewall survey revealed, a shocking one in eight trans people has been physically attacked. It’s something that all of us need to step up and take responsibility for. There will be a trans MP, sooner or later, and we will live in a more inclusive society, but history doesn’t write itself. If we want to escape the weight of past prejudice, if we want to reach a better future, we have to work for it in the here and now.

This month, will you do your bit to make homophobia and transphobia history?

Jennie Kermode is Chair of Trans Media Watch and author of Transgender Employees in the Workplace.

Take a look at our collection of books on LGBT issues for LGBT History Month here.

That’s So Gay! Tackling homophobic bullying in schools

homophobia schoolsJonathan Charlesworth, author of That’s So Gay!, discusses the concerted effort by the government and anti-bullying organisations to tackle homophobia in schools but admits that there is progress still to be made. Observing that it is very important just to be yourself in life, he asserts that, in order to be so, restraints such as homophobia need to be removed. 

Are you a secondary school teacher or college tutor keen to help a student who’s questioning their sexual orientation and would welcome some guidance? Perhaps you’re a primary school teacher eager to challenge homophobic name-calling or bullying?

In the modern day, civil partnerships are legally recognised throughout the United Kingdom and same-sex marriages are similarly conducted everywhere except North Ireland. It’s an offence to incite or commit a homophobic or transphobic crime. Meanwhile, all our schools and colleges are bound by a Duty of Care to ensure their pupils or students are safeguarded against homophobic, biphobic or transphobic (HBT) bullying. Add to this the finding from a YouGov survey that 49% of young people aged between 18 and 24 define themselves as something other than heterosexual (1) and you would think we wouldn’t have any problem with homophobic bullying in or out of our schools and colleges.

Yet lesbian, gay or bisexual young people including those questioning their sexuality remain vulnerable to harassment and far too many are still experiencing bullying in our schools. Continue reading