Out of History, Into the Classroom

Out of History, Into the Classroom: Promoting LGBT History Month within Schools, College and Universities

We believe that prejudice and discrimination should be challenged every day, but having a specific LGBT History Month provides a valuable opportunity for schools to think about the ways in which they can promote inclusion. No matter how small, change can really make a difference.

Scotland has had much to celebrate in the past year, such as the progression of the Scottish Government's Marriage and Civil Partnership Bill, but there is still a lot of work to do! Something which has caught our eye is the Purple Friday campaign run in Dutch schools by LGBT youth organisation COC.

By asking staff and pupils, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, to wear purple against homophobia, they have created a really innovative, visible and fun way to influence change. Best of all, it's really easy to do! So easy in fact, that we thought that we could give it a go ourselves. And so, for this year’s LGBT History Month in Scotland, we're inviting you to:

Stand up against homophobia! Wear purple on Friday 28 February to show your support for LGBT friends and family (and don't forget to share your purple pics with us @LGBTHistoryScot #lgbtsmallsteps)

In case purple just isn’t your pupils’ colour, there are also many other small things you can do to make a big difference:

10 Small Steps for LGBT History Month

1.    Put posters up in your school to celebrate LGBT History Month or challenge homophobia 

You can make a visual statement with posters and postcards. LGBT Youth Scotland can provide you with anti-homophobia campaign materials and LGBT History Month resources. If you have posters up already, perhaps they need a refresh or you could create a new display in a prominent place? You may also wish to order resources such as our 'Coming out' guides to have available for pupils in your school.

2.    Have a discussion with a colleague or put LGBT issues on the agenda at a team meeting

Dialogue and discussion are platforms for change, so why not have a discussion about whether LGBT young people are ‘out’ and safe in your school? What mechanisms are in place to support them? Are phrases like ‘That’s soo gay’ common place? 

3.    Read a Chapter of the Toolkit for Teachers on ‘Dealing with Homophobia and Homophobic Bullying’

Take 5 – 10 minutes out of your day to find out something new. LGBT Youth Scotland developed a resource for teachers called ‘Dealing with Homophobia and Homophobic Bullying in Scottish Schools’. It was developed in partnership with Education Scotland (formally Learning Teaching Scotland) and covers Legislation & Policy, Case Studies and Recommended Practice. Download a copy.

4.    Deliver a lesson or assembly on LGBT Equality

Alongside our Toolkit for Teachers, we have created a series of lesson plans, covering a wide range of topics which are linked to Curriculum for Excellence. Download a copy.

5.    Get involved with the LGBT National Youth Council’s ‘Time For T.E.A.’ campaign

The LGBT National Youth Council (LGBT NYC) is a network of youth groups and young people from across Scotland that campaign on issues important to LGBT young people. Their current ‘Time For T.E.A. (transgender education awareness)’ campaign aims to raise awareness of transgender identities in Scottish Education. Find out more about the work, watch their campaign video and submit your own ‘Time For T.E.A.’ campaign photo pledge here.

6.    Challenge statements like ‘That’s soo gay’

It is common for young people to use the word ‘gay’ as a negative. Regardless of the motivation, we know that the use of the word ‘gay’ as a negative sends a strong message that being gay is not OK in Scotland. Challenge this language today; ask them what they mean by it and explain its use as a negative is not acceptable. Consistency is really important, so encourage other colleagues to do the same.

7.    Play a film over break times or in class

Young people and staff at LGBT Youth Scotland have created a selection of thought-provoking films over the years, looking at issues such as homophobia, domestic abuse and equal marriage. Have a look at our Youtube channel.

8.    Set up a group in your school to look at Equality and Fairness

Setting up an equality group can be a great way to plan and implement change in your school. Key elements to consider are policies, curriculum inclusion and staff confidence/knowledge. This will assist with school inspections as the Journey to Excellence inspection framework includes a quality indicator on Equality and Fairness. Have a look at the Journey to Excellence website to find video clips on LGBT Equality in Schools or get in contact with LGBT Youth Scotland for more information.

9.    Attend an LGBT History Month event

February is jam-packed full of innovative, fun, challenging and engaging activities and events across Scotland. Could you take your class to go and see some live theatre exploring race, class and sexuality? Or perhaps a visit to the Glasgow Women's Library to explore the importance of the LGBT acronym? Watch books come to life at a Human Library or get your running shoes out for a Rainbow 5K Trail Run. Take a look at What's On throughout the month or have a read of the attached LGBT History Month 2014 brochure.

10. Use a peer-led approach and/or engage Pupil Councils

We know that when young people are directly involved in school initiatives it can make a real impact. You can set up a group that specifically looks at homophobic bullying or discuss the topic with an existing group of young people like your school’s Pupil Council.

So why do something for LGBT History Month?

  • Homophobic bullying can be common place in school and have a devastating impact on pupils. LGBT Youth Scotland’s Life in Scotland for LGBT Young People: Education Report found that 61.9% of LGBT respondents had experienced homophobic or biphobic bullying in school. Furthermore, 10% of all LGBT young people had left education as a result of homophobia, biphobia or transphobia within the educational establishment.
  • Any young person can be homophobically bullied or called ‘gay’ often because they are perceived to be different or don’t fit with peer norms. Young people felt this was hurtful regardless of whether they identified as LGBT or not.
  • This work, alongside other anti-bullying and anti-discrimination work assists young people to achieve the four capacities and experiences and outcomes outlined in Curriculum for Excellence.

Whatever you choose to do, LGBT Youth Scotland can provide the information, advice and resources to support you. You may also want to use LGBT History Month this year as the starting point for a more in depth look at LGBT-inclusiveness in your school by exploring our LGBT Charter Mark scheme.