LGBT Education Isn't About Making Anyone Gay, It's About Teaching Acceptance And Equality For All

We have an obligation to ensure everyone in our schools is taught about what it means to be LGBT
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To any school pupil who thinks - or knows - they might be lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or anything under our wide, diverse rainbow,

To any parent whose child is LGBT+, and who loves them nonetheless,

To any teacher who believes acceptance and equality should be taught at all ages,

And to anyone applying pressure to stop education about LGBT+ issues in schools,

You may have seen the recent protests around LGBT+ inclusive lessons at a number of Birmingham schools – protests which as of this week have spread to other schools in the area, as well as Manchester and now London, as revealed in a series of tweets.

Messages about Yusuf Patel’s ‘Parental Guidance’ speaking tour in London warn of a “highly sexualised society” where “homosexual relationships are normalised” and children want to “change their gender” – language harking back to the repressive times under Section 28 when schools were banned from teaching about LGBT+ relationships.

I’m sure you were as shocked as I was when reading this bigotry masquerading as concern for pupils. The videos doing the rounds on Twitter in recent weeks have sent shockwaves through the internet and through my bones.

Just last week I went back to my secondary school that embraced me with open arms to talk about the volunteer work we do at Pride in London. However I feel very lucky to be in a position to do so and check my privilege in realising this isn’t possible countrywide.

2019 marks the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising - the start of the modern Pride movement - and yet no matter how far we’ve come in the past 50 years, we clearly still have a long way to go. Not least within faith groups where deep conservatism is entrenched.

We must condemn these attitudes wholeheartedly, but we must do so with compassion. Despite the media narrative, “Islam” means peace in Arabic, however the attempts to deprive pupils of an education that promotes acceptance and equality for all are completely unacceptable. After what happened in New Zealand we see countless headlines about our faith, and we are at a moment where the clash between cultures is greater than ever before. However, to any hardliners reading this: teaching people about LGBT+ issues isn’t about making anyone gay - it’s about creating a society that is fair and is equal.

That’s why Pride in London is calling on local MPs, community leaders, teachers, parents and the pupils themselves to stand in solidarity with us and do everything within their power to prevent hate-filled speech and protests towards the LGBT+ community from spreading wider.

We also call on businesses to stand up and speak out. It’s no longer good enough just to have a diversity and inclusion policy - brands must proactively show support to the LGBT+ community at all levels, not just through a rainbow lanyard.

How can you help?

As a pupil, make sure your school knows how important covering diversity and inclusivity in lessons is to you. As a parent, speak to your kids about the issues they’re covering in their PSHE / Citizenship / Sex Education lessons and make sure nothing is being censored. As a teacher, make sure your school is 100% committed to offering a curriculum that fully reflects the broad spectrum of relationships, communities and individuals in our society. As a business look at what you can do proactively to support and speak out on the issue.

Every year we march through the streets of London heads held high and our voices strong. The capital city and the authorities accept us for who we are. I look forward to the day when that acceptance and respect spans the whole of the country at all times. That day will only come by ensuring the next generation is taught to celebrate - not just accept - the diversity of the LGBT+ community.

Our fight for progress must also recognise the challenges faced by those whose identity spans their faith and sexuality simultaneously. I navigate this place in the world’s smallest Venn diagram every day and know I am not alone in navigating what feels like two competing identities.

We all have an obligation to ensure everyone in our schools is taught about what it means to be LGBT+. About celebrating diversity in all its forms. About showing one another basic respect.

Because it’s 2019.

And this is Great Britain.


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