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20 Things A School Can Do To Tackle Homophobia/Transphobia
And Create Safer Spaces

1)   Define and include ‘homophobic/transphobic bullying’ in the anti- bullying policy. 

2)   Provide training on recognising and dealing effectively with homophobic/ transphobic abuse and bullying to be made available to all staff.  (Note that in Ian Rivers’ research, he found that much of the abuse and bullying took place in situations where teachers are not usually present.)

3)   Provide positive images of lesbian, gay bisexual and trans people along-side those of other individuals and community groups, acknowledging the sexuality of famous and successful lesbians, gay bisexual and trans people both past and present.  The work needs to be placed in a wider context where LGBT people are seen as citizens and participants in a wide range of activities both past and present. This should happen in the same way as ensuring work presented to pupils includes positive images of black, minority ethnic people, women and people with disabilities, etc.

4)   Revisit all policies and practices, especially the equal opportunity policy, to see if LGBT people are included and catered for.  (See guideline on language.)

5)   Develop the curriculum to include LGBT experience, both in celebration and in looking at issues of equality and oppression.  Examples are:

  • inclusions of oppression of gays and lesbians when looking at the Holocaust in history;
  • inclusion of a range of sexualities and gender identity in sex education;
  • exploring issue based drama and utilising many novels and poems dealing with the subject in English.  (See bibliography.)

6)   Regularly review the covert culture, i.e., language and images used in all school communications be they written or spoken, choice of uniform, names of forms, houses etc. to reflect an anti-heterosexist culture.

7)  Schools and Local Authorities enable the setting up of interest groups for LGBT people so they can support each other and make recommendations. 

8)  Local Authorities to review their policies and practices so that they support and enable staff to ‘come out’ if they so wish.

9)  Develop models of good practice and support and apply them to particular situations, be they classroom, corridor, canteen, youth club, career guidance, counselling room, hospital etc.

10) Regularly update advertising such as posters for appropriate local LGBT clubs and events.  Continuously display the LGBT switchboards numbers, both local and national.

11) Fast and effective removal of offensive graffiti.

12) School assemblies need to reflect lesbian, gay men bisexual and trans people’s anniversaries like Stonewall and now tragically the Soho Bombing as well as birthdays of famous lesbians, gay men, bisexual and trans people.

13) Behaviour guidelines and structures regularly debated and agreed and owned by students, in order to help students and staff to implement them, i.e., election of student safety officers.

14) The encouragement of a culture that engenders effective learning and the exploration of what students and staff need from each other to learn.

15) A designated person who young people know they can talk to about these issues in confidence.  (This is in addition to their form/year tutor, not in instead of.)

16) Design school social events and invitations so that they are welcoming to all partners of staff and parents. 

17) Support young LGBT people who wish to come out, and help them link up with other young lesbians and gay men and trans people.

18) Find LGBT affirmative therapists and counsellors for those young people who would like help coming to terms with their sexuality and gender identity

19) Develop the sex education curriculum so that it does not only cover reproduction and disease.  Sex needs to be taught in a way that young people can relate to.  It is vital that a range of sexual orientations is discussed in a positive manner as well as gender identity. (See bibliography.)

20) Every class has its own seating plan that changes regularly so everyone knows where they sit, so cliques are not enabled and everyone gets a chance to sit with everyone.

21) In everything you say, do or write,

 Know that everyone is unique and that we can be lesbian,
gay, bisexual or heterosexual!