What is School Diversity Week?
School Diversity Week is the national celebration of lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans (LGBT+) equality in education. Organised by the charity Just Like Us (justlikeus.org) and launched with the support of the Department for Education, the week empowers pupils and school staff to take responsibility for tackling homophobic, biphobic and transphobic (HBT) bullying. In 2020, over 1,600,000 pupils and school staff are due to take part in the week.
In response to COVID-19, should we be unable to run the week in school, Just Like Us have created School Diversity: Home Edition with resources for remote learning and opportunities for our pupils to engage with online masterclasses led by leading LGBT+ experts on a range of topics.
Why do we need to champion LGBT+ equality in schools?
Growing up remains unacceptably tough for LGBT+ young people with potentially life-long impact on young people’s attainment and wellbeing: 2 in 5 LGBT+ young people miss school because of homophobia, 1 in 2 have self harmed and 2 in 5 have thought about suicide. We need to take action to support these vulnerable young people, and explain to all our pupils the importance of diversity in the world we are preparing them for.
LGBT+ young people:
1 in 2 have self harmed
2 in 5 contemplate suicide
9 in 10 hear homophobic remarks
5 in 10 say homophobia, biphobia or transphobia will negatively impact their plans for continuing their education
Why is our school taking part in School Diversity Week?
As a school, we are committed to creating an inclusive community where everyone - staff and pupils - can be themselves and realise their potential.
The school and governors have a legal duty to ensure all forms of bullying, including homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying, are tackled under the Education and Inspections Act 2006. This responsibility was reinforced by the Equality Act 2010 which obliges us to promote understanding about LGBT+ equality and challenge discrimination and prejudice.
Ofsted will assess our approach to educating our young people about LGBT+ issues and bullying. Involvement with School Diversity Week has been commended by Ofsted as an indication that a school is fulfilling these responsibilities.
Why are we running School Diversity Week: Home Edition?
Are my children too young to discuss issues related to sexual orientation?
School Diversity Week is an incredibly positive experience; creative, educational and promoting values of kindness, in the midst of a time which for many young people is unsettling.
Learning about diversity, equality and inclusion at home allows for young people to explore these topics and ask questions in a safe, comfortable environment. This digital format, allowing access to Just Like Us' toolkit from home also means we’re able to signpost new and exciting opportunities such as masterclasses with LGBT+ experts in a range of fields. Particularly with many LGBT+ young people away from their communities, School Diversity Week is a show of solidarity and community at a time when it is truly needed.
In line with our legal obligations, we are committed to educating young people about LGBT+ equality and the importance of challenging prejudice and discrimination in age-appropriate ways. This is also true when we tackle other forms of discrimination – on the grounds of race, religion or disability, for example – at all ages. We have a zero tolerance approach to homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying at any age.
School Diversity Week acknowledges that sexual orientation and gender identity are fundamental characteristics of individual identity, protected by law. It champions the fact that all children, no matter their sexual orientation or gender identity, will have the opportunity to live happy and fulfilled lives. It recognises the contributions of LGBT+ people to our culture. By taking part in School Diversity Week, our school will be preparing our pupils for a world in which the importance of diversity is recognised, and individuals protected from discrimination. To hear more about why we think this is important for everyone, watch Tim Ramsey from Just Like Us’ TEDx talk: “Is my child too young to learn about being gay?”