LGBT-inclusive education matters more than ever, campaigners say

Parents and protestors demonstrate against 'No Outsiders,' an LGBT relationships education.

Leading LGBT+ organisations have signed an open letter detailing why LGBT-inclusive education is more important than ever.

In the letter, published by PinkNews in full below, more than 30 charities and campaigners warn that protests against LGBT-inclusive education “echo the damaging rhetoric that surrounded the introduction of Section 28.”

For weeks, groups opposing LGBT-inclusive education have staged protests at schools in Birmingham, while in Manchester several primary schools have begun receiving complaints from parents.

The current wave of protests originated at Birmingham’s Parkfield School, which has suspended the No Outsiders anti-bullying programme run by gay assistant headteacher Andrew Moffat “until a resolution is reached” on the issue.

Parents, children and protesters demonstrate against the LGBT-inclusive education offered in the 'No Outsiders' programme at Parkfield Community School on March 21, 2019 in Birmingham, England.

Parents, children and protesters demonstrate against the ‘No Outsiders’ LGBT-inclusive education programme at Parkfield Community School on March 21, 2019 in Birmingham, England. (Christopher Furlong/Getty)

The letter signatories, which include Stonewall and the LGBT Foundation, also spoke out against “misinformation” being spread about LGBT-inclusive education, warning: “While we have made huge progress in recent decades, we can’t lose ground on this now.”

The full letter on LGBT-inclusive education is below:

In recent weeks, we have been deeply saddened and alarmed to witness targeted campaigns against LGBT-inclusive teaching in our schools, in the media and online.

Growing up should be a positive experience for everyone, and our schools have a vital role to play in this. Difference is a fact of life, and is something that should be understood and celebrated – this is at the heart of our work to make the world a more accepting place for LGBT+ people.

An education which is LGBT-inclusive and teaches children to accept differences in others is crucial in building a society based on tolerance and respect.

These campaigns, organised by a small group of individuals, have spread misinformation in an attempt to build opposition to LGBT-inclusive teaching.

Their calls echo the damaging rhetoric that surrounded the introduction of Section 28, a piece of legislation that banned the so-called ‘promotion’ of homosexuality in our schools.

Even though Section 28 was repealed in 2003, it scarred a generation of LGBT+ people, and continues to cast a long shadow today. Many teachers are still unsure of whether they can teach pupils that LGBT+ people exist.

Teaching about people from all different walks of life, including LGBT+ people, makes sure that every child sees themselves and their family reflected in what they learn.

It ensures that all young people develop inclusive attitudes towards those who are different to them, helping to tackle the anti-LGBT and prejudice-based bullying that remains widespread in our schools.

It tackles the myth that being LGBT+ is a choice, rather than simply a part of who someone is.

It also supports every LGBT+ young person to grow up knowing there is absolutely nothing wrong with who they are, and who they love.

All children have the right to exist, love and be loved.

Together, we work with thousands of schools across Britain to help them deliver LGBT-inclusive teaching and create inclusive learning environments.

This includes hundreds of faith schools and church schools, who are challenging the false narrative that you can’t be LGBT+ and of faith. We must also recognise the experiences of the many people of faith who are also LGBT+, and the fact that many have found love and acceptance in both their religious and LGBT+ communities.

Homophobia, biphobia, transphobia, Islamophobia, and any other type of prejudice, is always unacceptable. While we have made huge progress in recent decades, we can’t lose ground on this now. We must stand together to fight for a world where everyone is accepted for who they are. We must continue to work toward delivering an equal society which is free from discrimination.

We are living in uncertain times. Particularly in light of last week’s horrendous attacks on Muslim communities in Christchurch, East London and Surrey, it’s more important than ever that we stand together against efforts to divide us.

Today, and every day, we stand in solidarity with schools across the country who are working to make this vision a reality.

Ozzy Amir, Founder – The BAME LGBT Charity
Priscilla Nkwenti, Chief Executive – BHA
Jen Yockney MBE, Convenor – BiPhoria
Bradford Youth Service
COLOURS Youth Network
Paul Roberts OBE, Chief Executive – Consortium
Adam McCann, Chief Executive – Diversity Role Models
Dr Elly Barnes MBE, Director – Educate & Celebrate
Khakan Qureshi, Founder – Finding a Voice
Lucie Brooke, Director – Free 2 Be Alliance
Nik Noone, CEO – GALOP
Gendered Intelligence
George House Trust
Andy Hunt, Chief Executive – Intercom Trust
Tim Ramsey, Chief Executive – Just Like Us
Professor Elizabeth McDermott, Lancaster University
Paul Martin OBE, Chief Executive – LGBT Foundation
London Friend
METRO Charity
Mosaic Youth Project
Alice Wallace, Director – Opening Doors London
Amelia Lee, Strategic Director at The Proud Trust,
Rainbow Noir
Professor Emeritus Sue Sanders, Chair – Schools Out
Ruth Hunt, Chief Executive – Stonewall
Stonewall Housing
Sally Carr MBE, Operational Director at The Proud Trust.
Susie Green, CEO of Mermaids
Ian Green, CEO of Terrence Higgins Trust
Trans Youth Network
Phyll Opoku-Gyimah, Executive Director – UK Black Pride (and a practising Christian)
Pav Akhtar, Director of Strategy – UK Black Pride (and a practising Muslim)
Suriya Roberts-Grey, Founder – UNMUTED Birmingham
Yorkshire MESMAC