Teachers should teach gay relationships in all aspects of school life, from hanging posters of “families that have two mummies or two daddies” to encouraging children to read books about two kings falling in love and also wear neutral uniforms, boarding schools are told.
Elly Barnes, an LGBT school advisor, has told boarding schools heads, that gay relationships should be visible and they should be comfortable with mentioning the word “lesbian” or “gay” to pupils.
She said there is “invisibility” around the LGBT “struggle” because teachers themselves were not taught about sexual minorities at school and because of stigmas that are still attached to teaching the subject despite recent changes in the law.
She said: “We want to create an environment in schools where everybody can be whoever they want to be.
“However, when teachers obtain their [qualification] it is not part to be trained in equality. We do gender and disability really well so we need to introduce a new language around LGBT.
“Teachers are not used to using the words gay, lesbian or trans in a classroom environment because there is total invisibility around homophobia and the LGBT struggle.”
Ms Barnes said recent changes in legislation – including the 2010 Equality Act and the 2012 Ofsted criteria – have created a culture in which teachers are encouraged to challenge homophobia but that more needs to be done.
Apart from introducing a new acceptable language around gay relationships in schools, she said teachers should use key dates, posters, books and gay icons to promote same-sex relations as normal.
She said: “Teachers can use the vehicle of the LGBT month in February, or the anti-bullying month in November to raise awareness [around gay relationships].
“They can also use books to ensure visibility of LGBT in their libraries.” She said there are age appropriate books for both primary and secondary pupils, including Mommy, Mama and Me, about a toddler spending time with his two mothers; King and King, about two princes Bertie and Lee falling in love and getting married; and a book about two gay penguins entitled And Tango Makes Three.
A music teacher by training, Ms Barnes said teachers should also include gay icons in their lessons. She said: “If I am teaching my young people a song, I tell them the artist is lesbian or gay. I use the LGBT terminology within the context of a lesson.
Teachers, she said could incorporate the rainbow flag, a key gay symbol, in their Design and Technology lessons.
Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the Boarding Schools Association conference, she says teachers should look at introducing a gender-neutral uniform in schools.
She said: “We shouldn’t be specifying what boys and girls wear. We should be giving them options.”
“Is it right that a girl can wear perceived boys clothes and not get looked at or laughed at but if a boy decides to wear girls’ clothes they would be laughed at? To me that’s not social justice.”
Others have called for the government to portray gay relationships in a positive light in the past.
Source: The Telegraph – http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/educationnews/11587730/Teach-children-about-families-with-two-mummies-or-two-daddies-boarding-schools-told.html