Guest blog written by Christian Smith (Director of ICT in an Ealing Independent School)
Pride Month in June is always an opportunity to celebrate and acknowledge our LGBTQIA+ identities, and with shows like Netflix Heartstopper and Channel 4’s Big Boys getting critical and public recognition for showing the various aspects of coming out and being a Queer Teen in modern Britain, it is important to realise that not all experiences are positive and affirmative.
For some students, the choice to come out as their authentic selves, can have significant implications from family and friends that can lead to long term harm and dangers, and for others, may not even be a choice they get to make for themselves.
Turn on the news, and see stories of Trans identities being vilified by those with a huge platform under the banner of being “gender critical”, laws being created in the United States that, for many of us, evoke memories of growing up in school under Section 28 and even worse, we are reminded constantly that our rights must be continually fought for, that they are not a “given”.
While Pride month and parades are a celebration, we must remember that Pride began as a protest, and that while we should get to celebrate our identities, however we choose, that celebration should not erase the roots of protest that started it or the struggles still faced by all marginalised communities around the country and across the world.
LGfL’s “Everyone Matters” provide schools with some powerful tools to support teachers (many of whom grew up under Section 28 and often find these discussions difficult and challenging themselves) in dealing with Homophobic Bullying in School.
The videos are powerful, and challenging, but provide an important counterbalance to the positive messages of some of the stories that are being told in media. For those whose coming out may not be positive, or even a choice they make for themselves, knowing that schools and teachers can support, and challenge homophobic behaviours can be a lifeline. And for many teachers, understanding how to challenge these behaviours and combat the casualness of some of these actions, with care and understanding, can provide new understanding and context to wider issues.
Dealing with the challenges of having these discussions in the class, setting boundaries and rules for discussion, as well as challenging the negative narratives and discussions that are in all areas of our country, the resources provide a structure to discuss, challenge and educate within a school setting.
Everyone Matters uses real life scenarios acted by London students as prompts for discussion and dissection, to understand how to respond and understand the underlying issues. To start an open conversation, without targeting a specific individual or incident in a class.
Alongside Everyone Matters, LGfL’s The Prodigals, can help support developing a student's sense of identity, voice, responsibility and independence and explores through a drama cinematically presented. The story is then re-presented in a contemporary pop video format that young people can enjoy, relate and respond positively to.
You could also explore the topic of "Identity" further and consider submitting work to LGfL's Amplify site.
Christian Smith is Director of ICT in an Ealing Independent School, and worked alongside the LGfL curriculum team and the Metropolitan Police LGBTQIA+ officers to bring the materials to all schools.
Please share what you are doing for #PrideMonth in your school(s) with us via our Twitter and on our Facebook pages.