BACKGROUND TO THE RAINBOW FLAG AWARD CLASSROOM
LGBT+ inclusion in schools might seem like a relatively new thing. It is true that LGBT+ inclusion is finally on the agenda of many schools and colleges, reflecting a shift in law and societal attitude. However, change doesn’t come about by accident, we owe so much to Sue Sanders from Schools OUT UK, and her team of dedicated, voluntary, teacher colleagues, who have been campaigning for LGBT+ inclusion in schools since the 1970’s. There is no doubt, that the brave, pioneering and passionate work of Schools OUT UK have brought us, in no small way, to where we are today.
In addition to establishing LGBT+ History Month in the UK in 2004, celebrated each year in February, Schools OUT UK soon after also launched The Classroom website.
Schools OUT UK recognised that many schools were delivering “The Gay Lesson”, a one-off lesson, usually delivered in PSHE, and usually with a focus on hate and homophobia, that was the one and only mention of LGBT+ people during the entirety of a student’s education. Schools OUT UK was the first organisation to recognise that LGBT+ specific lessons in PSHE were important, but needed to be properly inclusive of L, B and T identities too, and have a positive affirming tone (not a terrifying focus on LGBTphobia, presenting LGBT+ people as victims). Crucially, they also recognised that in order to create equality and truly inclusive schools, LGBT+ people needed to be positively recognised and celebrated throughout the whole of school life, by “salt and peppering” LGBT+ lives and identities through the wider curriculum, across many subject areas.
You will hear your Rainbow Flag Award delivery organisation talk about classroom lessons that are LGBT+ specific, and those that are LGBT+ inclusive. This concept, and set of language, is building on work set out by Schools OUT UK in The Classroom website.
USUALISING: A term created by Schools OUT UK (instead of normalising – for obvious reasons). This is about making LGBT+ visible in the classroom setting, by delivering regular lessons that use an LGBT+ person or identity in the example. For example, a maths problem where students workout the inside area of the tents at Brighton Pride – an opportunity to acknowledge the existence of LGBT+ people and Pride festivals, then simply get on with some maths. We would call these types of lessons LGBT+ inclusive, making LGBT+ people and lives visible, by simply dropping references and examples in, but not being the focus of the lesson.
ACTUALISING: Now that we have usualised LGBT+ people and lives, we now have scope to explore these identities in greater detail and with specific focus, in lessons that sit within your PSHE curriculum. We would call these types of lessons LGBT+ specific, crucial for ensuring children and young people understand the world that they actually live in, and for many, giving them the language to describe, understand, and be proud of, who they actually are.
The Rainbow Flag Award partner organisations are thrilled to have the blessing of Sue Sanders and Schools OUT UK, to offer a complimentary website to The Classroom, by developing and building on their great work, and offering you LGBT+ inclusive and LGBT+ specific lessons here, in The Rainbow Flag Award Classroom.