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1. SEGREGATION, INVISIBILITY AND LACK OF SUPPORT

Biphobic
Homophobic
Sexist
Transphobic

Q1 One of the other pupils told a teacher I was eyeing them up whilst changing for Games. The teacher has since moved me to a different changing room on my own. Is this legal? 

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Q2 My teacher says that I am not allowed to get changed with the girls for sports. I am a transwoman. Is this legal? 

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Q3 I think I may be transgender. Who can I talk to about this?

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Q4 I am incredibly lonely because I don’t know any other LGBTQ people. Where can I find them?

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Q5 The only place where being gay is mentioned by teachers is in Sex and Relationship Education (SRE). Here they only talk about LGB people like we are disease carriers. Everyone seems to think all gay men are into drink, drugs and sex. Is there anything my teachers should be doing to challenge these ideas?

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Q6 My brother is gay and everyone says I have caught A.I.D.S from him because we share a bedroom. No one will sit next to me now. What should I do?

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Q7 I am a teenage transman and father who wants to care for his child. I have been told that I cannot attend the mother and child unit at my school unless I accept that I am my child’s mother since I gave birth to her. If I insist on being addressed as a man the school say I will make the mothers uncomfortable. Can they do this?

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Q8 Everyone assumes that I am a female who is attracted to males (a straight woman) I identify as male  (a transman) and I prefer women sexually. No one knows this (and I am too scared to come out) but I am craving some form of recognition. How could this be made possible?

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Q9 Because I have a kid everyone assumes I’m straight and any references we get in school to young families are always heterosexual. Can my teachers do this?

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Q10 In Religious Education we had to explain about marriage.  When I explained that my two dads are civil partners the class started to laugh and said they couldn’t understand why two men would want to do this. The teacher didn’t help me and moved on to talking to my friend as soon as possible.

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A1

No.

  1. By placing you away from your peers your teacher’s actions are excluding you and making assumptions about your behaviour based on your real or perceived sexual orientation. This is a breach of The Equality Act (Sexual Orientation Regulations) [2007].

  2. Article 3 of the Human Rights Act [1998] promotes freedom from torture, inhuman or degrading treatment. Singling you out in this way may qualify as degrading or humiliating treatment if a “reasonable” person of the same age, sex and health as you would also feel degraded. It is inappropriate for your teacher to have removed you from the group. Instead they should have dealt with the situation.

  3. Article 14 of the Human Rights Act [1998] also allows freedom from discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation (whether real or perceived). Highlight these two rights on a paper copy of the Act which you can download from the web and show it to your teacher in the first instance. If this is ineffective see How to Bring About Change.

  4. The national framework for PSHE should underpin individual schools’ equal opportunity policies by providing a context for pupils to learn the effects of stereotyping and discrimination, and give pupils the skills to challenge the prejudice of others assertively.

  5. Your teacher may try to argue that they were trying to balance your rights (to continue changing undressing with members of your own sex) and those of your classmates (to not be sexually harassed). However, even if a teacher were legally able to isolate you in this manner they would need to have evidence to justify their response. In short, they would have to prove that you were indeed eyeing your classmate up. Their word against yours would be insufficient.

  6. Under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) your school has a legal obligation to consult with pupils on decisions that affect them. Were you asked how you felt? Your school has a duty to help you assert and protect your human rights.

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A2

Yes it is. Without a full Gender Recognition Certificate (which you will not be able to get until you are at least 18) your school does not have to legally recognize you as female.

  1. However, your school does have a legal duty to treat you with dignity and respect. Changing with the boys may not allow for this so you would be entitled to ask for separate changing facilities under the Gender Equality Duty [2007] which calls for the active inclusion of pupils who do not fit rigid gender stereotypes. Failure to find you a suitable space to undress amounts to exclusion.

  2. Article 14 of the Human Rights Act [1998] allows freedom from discrimination on a number of grounds. Perhaps the most useful of these for you in this instance is “any other status” which you could argue was your trans identity. (However, Article 14 can only be used in a court of law if you think that other breaches of your human rights have occurred as well – i.e. you need at least two Articles to have a claim).
  3. If your school fails to find you somewhere suitable to undress you may be unable to participate in sports lessons. If your school has, or is seeking, Healthy School status, point out that this failure makes their behaviour incompatible with such an award.

  4. Under government guidance known as Youth Matters [2005] and Every Child Matters [2003] all pupils have the right to enjoy school, to be safe, and to be healthy. If your school is unable to find you a suitable place to change it becomes very difficult for you feel or do any of these things.

  5. Under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) your school has a legal obligation to consult with pupils on decisions that affect them (Article 12). Were you asked how you felt? Equally under the UNCRC you should be protected from any activities that could harm your development (Article 36). If changing with the boys is harmful to you (either psychologically, or literally as you fear being beaten up) point this out to your teacher. While they may continue to refuse to allow you to use the girls changing rooms they will need to find you somewhere else. Your school has a duty to help you assert and protect your human rights.

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A3

This is entirely up to you but the following suggestions may be helpful:

 

  1. Join an online forum aimed at LGBTQ young people such as Queer Youth Network. Here you can communicate with other young people who may also be questioning their gender identity, as well as those who have decided that they are transgender or transsexual. Remember, if you meet up with someone that you have been chatting to online, tell a responsible friend, or a parent/carer where you are going and when you will be back. Be sure to stick to public places.

  2. Mermaids – a family support group for children and teenagers with gender identity issues (mermaids@freeuk.com / 07020 935066. NB. This helpline is open between 3pm-7pm, Mon-Sat).

  3. Gires – Gender Identity Research and Education Society (Admin@gires.org.uk/ 01372 801554)

  4. The Portman Clinic, which is home to the UK’s pediatric (child) Gender Identity Clinic, has access to information on support services and groups around the country.

  5. The youth support services in your area (see Connexions Direct for more information - online or tel. 080 800 13 2 19 between 8am-2am, or text 07766 4 13 2 19).

  6. A youth worker from an LGBTQ youth group in your area (see the Terrence Higgins Trust 's Young Gay Men's website for details of groups in your area )

  7. A teacher that you trust in your school

  8. A national organization such as Childline (0800 1111).

  9. You may like to establish a Gay Straight Alliance in your school. While GSA’s are not aimed explicitly at trans students they may offer you a safe space to explore your gender identity. Under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) you have a right to meet with other children and young people and to join groups and organisations (Article 15)  

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A4

There are many other young LGBTQ people all over the place. Many people feel the same as you do when they are isolated from other young LGBTQ people. Here are some suggestions:

  1. Join an LGBTQ youth group in your area (see the Terrence Higgins Trust 's Young Gay Men's website for details of groups in your area ).

  2. Establish a Gay Straight Alliance in your school. Under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) you have a right to meet with other children and young people and to join groups and organisations (Article 15). Your school has a duty to help you assert and protect your human rights.   

  3. Attend one or more of the annual Pride Marches which run in many British cities across the summer months. Pluck up the confidence to talk to some of the young people you will see (see www.pinkpaper.com/ for details). There may be a designated youth area or stall so it is worth looking out for this. Go with a friend and where possible, inform your parent/carer of your whereabouts.

  4. Join an online forum such as

Remember, if you meet up with someone that you have been chatting to online tell a responsible friend, or a parent/carer where you are going and when you will be back. Be sure to stick to public places.

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A5

Yes, there is.

 

  1. An Ofsted report (Sex and Relationships, 2002) requires teachers to give positive information about LGBTQ people.

  2. Whilst ideally LGBTQ people should be spoken of across all lessons (and not relegated to just SRE) you can reasonably expect to hear about LGBTQ lives in PSHE and Citizenship classes as well. The importance of PSHE for lesbian, gay and bisexual students has been identified by the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority. Refer to this curriculum if your school is ignoring LGB people within your PSHE classes. Similarly, the Citizenship curriculum focuses on educating students about how to become informed adults. This includes learning about diversity and is an ideal place to incorporate LGBTQ lives.

  3. Under government guidance known as Youth Matters [2005] and Every Child Matters [2003] all pupils have the right to enjoy school. It is very hard to enjoy school if you do not feel recognised or see images or hear about lives that you recognise as similar to your own. Gay men make up a whole spectrum of people. By focusing only on gay men within Sex and Relationship Education your school is inadvertently endorsing the idea that sex is central to gay identity. Your school is also failing to make visible gay people more broadly. Your school should invest in books for the library that include LGB people, mention LGB lives wherever possible in all lessons, display posters depicting LGB people around school and advertise and allow access to LGB-supportive websites on the school premises.

  4. Under The School Inspections Act [1996] Ofsted is required to examine how far the education your school offers meets the needs of all of its pupils. If you feel your needs are not being met point this out, anonymously if need be.

  5. Government guidance known as Safe to Learn (2007) and Stand Up for Us (2004) both suggest schools make use of LGB role models.

  6. The Social and Emotional Aspects of Learning (SEAL), that the government is keen to roll out to all secondary schools, calls on teachers to ensure inclusion by using materials that show positive images of gender and sexual orientation.

  7. If your school has, or is seeking, Healthy School status, ask which strategies they have used, or plan to use, to support LGBT students.

  8. You may wish to look at LGBT History Month for some resources to show your teacher or the lesson plans on the Schools OUT site.

  9. Has your school consulted with you or other students about the delivery of the curriculum or the contents of SRE? Under United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) you have the right to say what you think should happen when adults are making decisions that affect you (such as failing to mention lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people across all subject areas) and have your opinion taken into account (Article 12). Your school has a duty to help you assert and protect your human rights.

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A6

Tell the teacher what is going on. They must do something about this. This type of bullying is based on ignorance. It also misinforms young people of how HIV is spread which is dangerous.

 

  1. An Ofsted report (Sex and Relationships, 2002) requires teachers to challenge stigmatism of LGBTQ families (e.g. that not all gay men have AIDS), give positive information about LGBTQ people, and challenge all forms of homophobic bullying (which is what this is).

  2. Your school has a duty to explain how HIV is contracted, through the curriculum. This could take place during Sex and Relationship Education or biology.

  3.  The national framework for PSHE should underpin individual schools’ equal opportunity policies by providing a context for pupils to learn the effects of stereotyping and discrimination, and give pupils the skills to challenge the prejudice of others assertively. Point this out to your teacher.

  4. Under government guidance known as Youth Matters [2005] and Every Child Matters [2003] all pupils have the right to enjoy school. Point out to your teacher that this bullying is stopping you enjoying school.

  5. If your school has, or is seeking, Healthy School status this may need reviewing if your school fails to act.

  6. Under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) you have the right to privacy and protection from attacks against your good name (Article 16). This right to privacy is also present in Article 3 of the Human Rights Act [1998]. The UNCRC also says that you should be protected from activities that could harm your development. If you feel this bullying is hurting you tell a teacher. Your school has a duty to help you assert and protect your human rights.

  7. Article 14 of the Human Rights Act [1998] also allows freedom from discrimination on the grounds of birth – just because he is your brother does not mean you should be discriminated against. (NB: Article 14 can only be used in a court of law if you think that other breaches of your human rights have occurred as well – i.e. you need at least two Articles to have a claim).

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A7

No. This is illegal.

  1. Under the Human Rights Act [1998] you can demand the right to respect for your private and family life. If the school ignores your desire to be seen as your child’s father they are denying your right to family life. Article 3 of the Human Rights Act [1998] promotes freedom from torture, inhuman or degrading treatment. Singling you out in this way may qualify as degrading or humiliating treatment if a “reasonable” person of the same age, sex and health as you would also feel degraded. Article 14 also gives both you, and your child, the right to freedom from discrimination on the grounds of both gender and birth. It also protects you from discrimination on the grounds of “any other status” which could include identifying as trans where the school fails to see you as male. Print out a paper copy of the Act and highlight each of these Articles. Show this to your head teacher. If this is unsuccessful see How to bring About Change.

  2. Under the Gender Equality Duty [2007], which your school has a legal obligation to fulfill, your teachers should be actively promoting inclusion for children and young people who do not fit gender stereotypes. By saying you cannot attend a mother and baby unit they are actively denying your gender identity.

  3. Examine your schools’ Equal Opportunity Policy. You may find that it says the mother and baby/child unit should be accessible to all parents. This includes you, whatever your gender identity.

  4. Under government guidance known as Youth Matters [2005] and Every Child Matters [2003] all pupils have the right to enjoy school. It is very hard to enjoy school if you do not feel recognized (as a parent), or see images or hear about lives that you recognize as similar to your own. Your school should invest in books for the library that include trans people, mention trans lives wherever possible, display posters depicting trans people around school and advertise and allow access to trans supportive web-sites on the school premises. 

  5. If your school has, or is seeking, Healthy School status this may need reviewing if your school continues to deny you a place in the mother and baby unit. Your emotional well being and your physical health could well be suffering. Each of these form criteria for Healthy School status.

  6. Article 3 of the Human Rights Act [1998] promotes freedom from torture, inhuman or degrading treatment. Singling you out in this way may qualify as degrading or humiliating treatment if a “reasonable” person of the same age, sex and health as you would also feel degraded. Article 14 also gives both you, and your child, the right to freedom from discrimination on the grounds of both gender and birth. It also protects you from discrimination on the grounds of “any other status” which could include identifying as trans where the school fails to see you as male. Print out a paper copy of the Act and highlight each of these Articles. Show this to your head teacher. If this is unsuccessful see How to bring About Change.

  7. Under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) education is supposed to develop your personality and talents to the full. You cannot do this if you are battling with your school. Point this out to them. Equally you have the right to privacy and protection from attacks against your family (Article 16). It is up to you how you choose to label yourself and the school should respect that. Article 12 of the UNCRC also says that it is your legal right to have your opinion heard and taken into account. Your school has a duty to help you assert and protect your human rights.

  8. You may also like to point your school towards this: www.gires.org.uk

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A8

Speak to a teacher. Many schools assume that they do not have transgender pupils. You do not need to out yourself. State that all pupils, regardless of gender or sexual orientation have rights, and that people cannot tell how a person identifies just from looking.

  1. Under the Gender Equality Duty [2007], which your school has a legal obligation to fulfill, your teachers should be actively promoting inclusion for children and young people who do not fit gender stereotypes (whatever their sexual orientation).

  2. Under The School Inspections Act [1996] Ofsted is required to examine how far the education your school offers meets the needs of all of its pupils. If you feel your needs are not being met point this out, anonymously if need be.

  3. Under government guidance known as Youth Matters [2005] and Every Child Matters [2003] all pupils have the right to enjoy school. It is very hard to enjoy school if you are not recognized for who you are, or see images or hear of lives that you recognize as similar to your own. Your school should invest in books for the library that include trans people, mention trans lives wherever possible, display posters depicting trans people around school and advertise and allow access to trans supportive web-sites on the school premises. This is backed up by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) which says that education is supposed to develop children’s personality and talents to the full. You cannot do this if you feel excluded or invisible. Your school has a duty to help you assert and protect your human rights.

  4. If your school has, or is seeking, Healthy School status this may need reviewing if your school fails to act.

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A9

Your teachers should not do this.

 

  1. Under The School Inspections Act [1996] Ofsted is required to examine how far the education your school offers meets the needs of all of its pupils. If you feel your needs are not being met point this out, anonymously if need be.

  2. Under Ofsted guidance (Sex and Relationships, 2002) your teacher is supposed to give positive information about LGBTQ families. This would include the fact that some babies are born to teenage parents who identify as LGBTQ and that they are just as capable of parenting as their heterosexual peers.

  3. Point out to your teacher that this judgment is based on the stereotype that all teenage parents are straight. The national framework for PSHE should underpin individual schools’ equal opportunity policies by providing a context for pupils to learn the effects of stereotyping and discrimination, and give pupils the skills to challenge the prejudice of others assertively.

  4. Under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) education should develop all young people’s personality and talents to the full (Article 29). You cannot do this if you are effectively invisible. Your school has a duty to help you assert and protect your human rights.

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A10

Your classmates should not judge your family in this way and the teacher should not have allowed this situation to develop. Your teacher should also feel more confident in dealing with a situation.  

                  

  1. Under the Civil Partnership Act [2004] civil partners are to be treated in the same way as any other married couple. Civil partnership is recognised by law as the equal of marriage. Any discussion involving marriage should therefore involve civil partnership, whether or not any of the students have lesbian or gay parents who are civil partners.

  2. Under the School Teachers' Pay and Conditions Document 2006 (STPCD), teachers are meant to ensure the pastoral care of their students. Your teacher was not looking out for you in this instance.

  3. An Ofsted report (Sex and Relationships, 2002) requires teachers to challenge stigmatism of LGBTQ families (e.g. the teacher should have stopped the laughing), give positive information about LGBTQ people and challenge all forms of homophobic bullying (which is what this is).

  4. Point out to your teacher that the idea that two men cannot marry is based on the homophobic assumption that lasting relationships cannot exist between anyone other than a man and a woman. The government does not believe this and said so in 2000 and again in 2002 (Sex and Relationships, 2002)

  5. Failure to challenge the laughter in the class endorses the stereotype that families are always headed by one man and one woman and that anything else is weird, inferior, or shameful. It is not. The national framework for PSHE should underpin individual schools’ equal opportunity policies by providing a context for pupils to learn the effects of stereotyping and discrimination, and give pupils the skills to challenge the prejudice of others assertively.

  6. Under the Human Rights Act [1998] you can demand the right to respect for your private and family life (Article 8). This is also present in Article 16 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC). Laughing is disrespectful.

  7. Article 3 of the Human Rights Act [1998] promotes freedom inhuman or degrading treatment. If a “reasonable” person of the same age, sex and health as you would also feel humiliated if they were treated in the same way as you described you may have a case. Your school has a duty to help you assert and protect your human rights.

  8. Article 14 of the Human Rights Act [1998] also allows freedom from discrimination on the grounds of birth – i.e. just because you have two fathers does not legitimately make you a target for abuse. Print out a paper copy of the Human Rights Act [1998] and highlight each of these Articles. Show this to your teacher. If this is unsuccessful see How to bring About Change.

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