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How to celebrate diversity and build an inclusive environment in your school

Stonewall and Metro Youth Chances research have found that nine in ten secondary school teachers say students in their schools are bullied, harassed or called names for being – or perceived to be – lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. Three quarters of trans young people say they have experienced name-calling and 99% of lesbian, gay or bisexual young people hear the phrases ‘that’s so gay’ or ‘you’re so gay’ in school. One in three lesbian, gay, bisexual or trans young people change their educational plans because of the bullying and discrimination they experience at school, and 32% of trans young people say they have missed lessons due to discrimination or fear of discrimination.

Lots of schools are tackling homophobia, biphobia and transphobia and instead celebrating diversity and creating school environments that are inclusive of all young people. If you’re new to this work, here are 10 top tips to get you started, based on best practice from Stonewall members.

1) Get your policy right: An up-to-date school policy (such as an anti-bullying or equality policy) sends a clear signal that bullying on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity will not be tolerated and derogatory language is unacceptable in your school. Develop a pupil-friendly version so that pupils understand the different types of bulling that can occur.

2) Train staff: Whole-school training is the best way to ensure that all staff feel confident in challenging these issues in school. Stonewall runs Train the Trainer courses, which equip one member of your school staff with the tools, confidence and knowledge to train their colleagues. Following the course, your school automatically becomes a member of the School Champions programme, a network of 1,400 schools across England dedicated to celebrating diversity and building inclusive environments.

3) Challenge language and bullying consistently: Only 10% of lesbian, gay and bisexual pupils report that teachers challenge homophobic language every time they hear it. Make sure staff are equipped and confident to do so through training and check in with anyone who may need extra support. Developing a script or a set of template responses will equip staff to respond confidently and consistently. Use Stonewall’s eye catching posters to raise awareness among pupils.

4) Take a whole-school approach and celebrate diversity: Provide ways through which everyone in the school community can get involved and celebrate your pupils, staff and families, including those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or trans, to make it clear your school accepts everyone without exception. Use assemblies, workshops, speakers and events to raise awareness and celebrate diversity.

5) Develop an inclusive curriculum: A better understanding of lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people and issues will prevent homophobia, biphobia and transphobia from happening in school and help pupils to understand why it is hurtful.

6) Survey staff and pupils: Send out a survey to staff and pupils anonymously on their experiences of the bullying and language. This will help your school to see the areas which need improvement.

7) Create an action plan: Using the results from the survey to identify key priorities, draw up an action plan to tackle homophobia, biphobia and transphobia. Be sure to include actions to challenge gender stereotypes as well – as this helps prevent bullying.

8) Record and monitor bullying: Record and monitor incidents of homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying and language so you can identify any particular problem areas and measure progress over time.

9) Run a campaign: Use a campaign to raise awareness of the importance of tackling these issues and derogatory language in school. Use Stonewall’s NoBystanders or Rainbow Laces campaigns for inspiration and provide ways for different groups to be involved.

10) Link up with others and celebrate success: Share experiences, tips and ideas with other schools on tackling these issues and celebrating diversity. Being a member of the School Champions programmes allows you to share best practice through regional seminars and events. Work with other organisations in your local community – such as the local authority, NHS services, sports clubs, local businesses, youth charities or religious centres – to promote LGBT equality. Contact Stonewall’s Information service to find other organisations in your area.

About Stonewall

Stonewall campaigns for lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans (LGBT) people to be accepted without exception, by empowering individuals, transforming institutions, changing hearts and minds and changing laws.

To book onto a Train the Trainer course (and become a School Champion), please visit www.stonewall.org.uk/teachertraining

To access free educational resources, visit www.stonewall.org.uk/educationresources

For general information and guidance, please contact Stonewall’s Information Service on 08000 50 20 20 or info@stonewall.org.uk

For questions about Stonewall’s work in schools, please contact education@stonewall.org.uk

Key Contact

Jane Anderson