Young people spend a lot of their time at school, so it is important that they are taught in a way that reflects the diversity of the world we live in. It is essential for all marginalised groups, such as LGBTQ+ students, to be represented in teaching and learning environments. It is also important for students who do not belong to marginalised groups to learn to accept and celebrate diversity.
While the world has come a long way in supporting the LGBTQ+ community, there is still room for improvement, and it can start in the classroom! It is important to provide all students with a curriculum that includes the themes, values and experiences of those who are part of the LGBTQ+ community.
Here are 5 tips to build LGBTQ+ inclusivity in the classroom:
1. Celebrate difference
As educators, we should model the importance of respecting the differences in ourselves and others around us. Whether you’re building LGBTQ+ inclusivity through promoting healthy class discussion, holding assemblies or putting up classroom displays, taking steps in this direction will help to make LGBTQ+ students feel encouraged and supported. An inclusive classroom community acknowledges the experiences of students from different backgrounds in a non-judgemental, non-stereotypical way that encourages them to respect and value each other.
2. Treat members of the LGBTQ+ community as whole multifaceted people
LGBTQ+ people have existed throughout all time. When teaching about members of the LGBTQ+ community who are public figures or characters in literary texts, it’s easy to minimise them to just their gender and/or sexuality. Often, some of the many accomplishments and achievements of LGBTQ+ people are not widely known today. By highlighting the existence of LGBTQ+ people in history and their accomplishments, we can celebrate the impact of their work and highlight the changes that still need to take place in the bid for equality. Encourage your students to understand and explore the values, traits, aspirations and hobbies of members of the LGBTQ+ community.
3. Ensure respect and support
Encouraging your students to respect and support diversity in the world can help reduce occurrences of inequality. A 2017 report by Stonewall on the experience of LGBT young people in schools in Britain found that 45% of LGBT young people have experienced homophobic bullying in schools, and 40% of those who have been bullied have skipped school because of it. LGBTQ+ individuals exist in every area of society but some feel forced to conceal their LGBTQ+ identity due to societal pressure and inequality. We can empower LGBTQ+ people by embracing their presence, amplifying their voices and talking about their experiences, in order to break down prejudice.
4. Encourage understanding
There is a common misconception that discussing LGBTQ+ issues centres around sex, and the opportunity to discuss the many facets of gender and sexuality is lost. The topic itself isn’t inherently sexual and focuses on important aspects of identity and relationships. Often, negative attitudes towards LGBTQ+ people stems from a lack of understanding, therefore, it is important to encourage and provide opportunities for discussion. You can help students to consider and understand gender and sexuality with our comprehensively designed lesson pack.
5. Don’t look to LGBTQ+ pupils to explain everything
When inclusive conversations are explored in class, there is a tendency to target members of the community that are being discussed, and expect them to speak up. However, it’s important to allow students to volunteer themselves. If LGBTQ+ students choose not to share, this should be respected, and they should not be targeted. It is not their responsibility to lead the discussion.
Representation in schools tells LGBTQ+ students they are appreciated and respected. You could use our Inspirational LGBTQ+ People PowerPoint to share and teach students about inspirational LGBTQ+ public figures. Building inclusivity in the classroom means that our students can feel supported and thrive in their education.
Looking for resources that promote inclusivity in the classroom?
Beyond’s RSE resources are a solid start! Not to mention Beyond English’s dedicated LGBTQ+ Unit of Work!
LGBTQ+ Experiences in Literature
RSE at Beyond
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