Teaching union calls for more drag events and LGBTQ+ spaces in UK schools

A teaching union has come out in support of a holding drag queen story in schools, to help foster a more inclusive atmosphere.

At the National Education Union’s (NEU) annual conference in Harrogate, delegates were told that schools should be encouraged to set up LGBTQ+ inclusive spaces for pupils, as well as organise events such as drag queen story hours and queer authors holding talks. 

A motion calling on the NEU’s executive to publicly support such initiatives, said these steps are important for helping to challenge the “heteronormative culture and curriculum”.

The call for action comes as drag queen story hour events, LGBTQ+ content in schools, and youth books containing queer story lines, themes and characters, have come under increasing scrutiny from right-wing groups. 

In particular, Drag Queen Story Hour, run by drag queen Aida H Dee, has faced protests from those who deem it “inappropriate” for children and young people. 

Rotherham teacher Darren Nuttall told the conference that “there are still pupils and teachers [who] will pick on LGBT+ students”.

You may like to watch

He added: “Let’s give the kids the support they deserve and the spaces they deserve,” The Independent reported. 

Inclusive teaching ‘essential’, says union leader

Another teacher, delegate Sara Hope, told the room it took her a long time to find an LGBTQ+ inclusive space to call her own while a student. 

She said that for many LGBTQ+ pupils “things haven’t really changed”, adding: “Help protect our LGBT+ students in schools by creating more safe spaces and LGBT+ clubs.”

After the motion was passed, Dr Mary Bousted, the NEU’s joint general secretary, said: “Nearly 20 years after the abolition of Section 28, too many students still go through an education experience which isn’t LGBT+ inclusive.

“Inclusive teaching is essential for students who are LGB, trans or non-binary, and has also been shown to bring many benefits for all students. 

“Empowering young people to develop positive attitudes from their time at school is essential, especially at a time when [they] are targeted online with intolerant and divisive ideas from figures like Andrew Tate.” 

Bousted noted that the NEU is committed to “to sharing and disseminating” resources to help teachers create a supportive and enjoyable school experience for LGBTQ+ young people. 

“The government is seriously failing to support trans people which means the creation of LGBT+ spaces and networks in schools and colleges is now more necessary,” she added. 

Please login or register to comment on this story.