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A WHOLE SCHOOL ISSUE?

If homophobia is to be tackled seriously within schools it needs to be taken on in the same way as other issues of equality. It needs to become an integral part of the curriculum. Some of the ways in which this can be done are;

  1. The inclusion of lesbian and gay people as part of the community and lesbian and gay relationships as alternatives to other family forms.

  2. Positive images of lesbian, and gay people need to be used alongside those of other individuals and community groups. Acknowledge the sexuality of famous and successful gays and lesbians. This should happen in the same way as ensuring work presented to pupils includes positive images of black people, women, people with disabilities, etc.

  3. The inclusion of books in classrooms and libraries which depict gays and lesbians.

  4. Celebrating gay and lesbian lifestyles in the same way that other diversity in the community is celebrated.

  5. Challenging homophobic remarks and actions and developing educational and disciplinary procedures to deal with them.

  6. Developing curriculum opportunities to include gay and lesbian experiences, both in celebration and in looking at issues of equity and oppression. Examples are;

    • inclusion of oppression of gays and lesbians when looking at the Holocaust in history;

    • inclusion of a range of sexualities in sex education in science;

    • opportunities within issue based drama, as well as many choices of novels in English.

It will be vital to ensure that the conditions in the school support this work if teachers are not to be isolated or victimised. This will mean inclusion of sexuality as an issue in equal opportunities policies. In addition, some have found a policy of openness is the most effective in pre-empting any complaints or concerns, e.g. show any material which will be used to the Head or offer to present them at parent -governor meetings as part of the normal sharing of resources and programmes of study.

Please note that these lessons raise issues that need planning and thought on the part of teacher and school to develop if they are to be properly useful. Children will express prejudice and fear and these must be supportively dealt with. There must also be support for vulnerable pupils and staff.