If your school is just beginning to tackle LGBTQIA+ issues – especially surrounding bullying or homophobic language – then an assembly can be the ideal means of raising awareness of these issues in a way open and visible to all students.
Our assembly tackles the ubiquitous phrase, “that’s so gay!” It focuses on the impact on LGB people and includes some follow-up form activities.
However, it is important that students don’t merely receive this message once a year – or worse, once in their school career. The aim of Rainbow Teaching isn’t to tick an item off a list, for a pat on the back or to keep Ofsted at bay (the last bit is just an added bonus). It’s about creating genuine safe spaces in school. How many times do we recap ideas, skills or facts to students to ensure retention? The same applies with messages of inclusion and equality – all the more so as young people will be subjected to a multitude of anti-LGBTQIA+ messages from society and the media, and a 20-minute assembly cannot hope to overcome that barrage.
More than half of primary school teachers (56 per cent) say they have not addressed different families in a way that includes same-sex parents in the classroom. A third of secondary school teachers (34 per cent) say they have not addressed issues of sexual orientation in the classroom.
Almost all teachers who have addressed sexual orientation issues or same-sex parents in the classroom would do so again (97 per cent in secondary schools, 91 per cent in primary schools).
Different and Changing Families
The most common approach to explicitly teaching about LGBTQIA+ issues in primary schools is by exploring different families. Our resource looks at a range of different families – including challenging stereotypes – as well as changing families. It tackles a range of issues, such as living with different family members or foster families, same-gender marriages, transgender parents, divorce and single parenting, and encourages pupils to be empathetic as well as accepting.
Our Gender Identity resource can serve as a scheme of work across 2 lessons, or extending to a half term’s worth of lessons. It explores different perceptions of gender, including:
- Western gender markers and stereotypes
- what it means to be intersex or transgender
- both binary and non-binary genders
- different cultural perceptions of gender
Whilst most students are aware of gay and lesbian, they may have misconceptions or a total lack of awareness of other sexualities. This resource looks at some lesser known orientations, including different aspects of non-monosexuality and asexuality. It also gets students to explore different stereotypes and why they are damaging.
Healthy and Unhealthy Relationships
According to LGBTQIA+ domestic abuse charity, Broken Rainbow, “Members of the LGBT community are more than twice as likely to have experienced domestic abuse in the past year” compared to cisgender straight people, with the charity taking 4,000 calls in the last year, “with the number of calls continuing to have an upward trend.”
Our Healthy and Unhealthy Relationships lesson looks at identifying different needs and deal-breakers in relationships, and identifying signs of abuse. It also explores victim blaming and ways to get support and help. Being inclusive of LGBTQIA+ people, and raising issues in a way that doesn’t assume heteronormativity, it tackles a difficult yet crucial subject in a way that benefits all students.
Students and staff may find aspects of this lesson distressing – this is flagged in the resource itself.
Further explanation of the importance of LGBTQIA+ inclusive lessons and activities, as well as examples, can be found here.