Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Account of a School Celebrating History Month 2008

A recent survey of 1,145 young people conducted by the Schools Health Education Unit for Stonewall reported that 92% of gay, lesbian and bisexual pupils have experienced verbal abuse, 41% physical bullying and 17% have been subject to death threats. And it is important to remember that homophobic bullying does not only touch LGBT pupils but any child appearing to be different from the norm, regardless of their sexual orientation.

Although Section 28, the aim of which was to prevent local authorities from "promoting homosexuality" was repealed in 2004, many teachers still find it difficult to broach the subject of homosexuality in the classroom. Others feel helpless to challenge homophobic behaviour.

Elly Barnes is not one of those teachers. The openly lesbian music teacher and head of year teaches at Stoke Newington School, a non-selective, state school, specialising in Arts, Maths, and Science in the London Borough of Hackney. For the past three years, thanks to Elly's remarkable energy and vision, the school has been celebrating LGBT History Month by integrating it to the curriculum. This year, thanks to the success of the initiative, the wider community has also been involved and other schools in the Borough have expressed interest in marking History Month themselves.

You can find Elly's account of this year's celebration of the month, together with pictures here.

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