Making homophobia history (LGBT History Month has helped one school to eradicate homophobia)

Published: October 26, 2010

‘I’ve had pupils say ‘Miss, you are trying to turn us gay’ and I ask them, ‘do you turn black during Black History Month or Turkish during Turkish month?’" Elly Barnes, a music teacher at Stoke Newington school in north London, is used to tackling such questions. Prompted by seeing homophobia around her in school on many occasions, she now runs Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender (LGBT) History Month here every February.

LGBT History Month was launched nationally by the lobby group Schools Out five years ago, and Stoke Newington school was one of the first to celebrate the event by integrating it into the curriculum. But the school has now gone one step further and become a diversity training centre, training teachers from both primary and secondary schools on equal opportunity policies, giving advice on resources and demonstrating LGBT practice lessons.

"My focus is eradicating homophobia from all schools and educational establishments by giving staff the confidence and resources to do it, along with demonstrating good practice and changing opinions under the banner of ‘educate and celebrate’," says Barnes, who is the diversity course leader.

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