Schools 'should let boys wear skirts'
London - Schools should adopt “gender neutral” uniform policies to avoid discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) pupils, Britain's boarding schools were told recently.
Elly Barnes, chief executive officer of Educate and Celebrate, which campaigns against discrimination in schools, said: “If it's all right for a girl to wear trousers, why should a boy not be allowed to wear a skirt? We should be giving them the option.”
Barnes was called in by the Boarding Schools Association to address its members on how they could make their schools more “LGBT friendly”.
She said that schools should lay on training for their staff so teachers become familiar with the language of the gay and lesbian community.
Most will not have received any training about how to tackle homophobia as part of their training courses, she added. “Having the training is an essential part of their continuous professional development,” she said. “They need the confidence to embrace the new language, I don't think they'll have used the words 'lesbian' or 'gay' in a classroom. It is putting those words in an easy context.
“It may just be a case of a pupil saying 'miss, what's a lesbian?' and you can say 'a lesbian is a woman who has relationships with other women'.”
She also urged all schools to update their equal opportunities policies so that they promoted same-sex relationships in a positive manner.
Books should be used that described children who have “two mamas” or “two daddies”, she said, while anti-bullying policies should be updated to include the eradication of homophobic abuse.
“LGBT bullying is as important as sexist and racist bullying. If a pupil says 'my pen's run out, it's so gay', you should challenge it. 'My pen's so Jewish, my pen's so black', you wouldn't be allowed to say it.”
Ms Barnes, an LGBT adviser with Birmingham City Council whose organisation has won government grants to tackle homophobia in schools, said: “We can't ignore one part of the people who are around us. There should be displays on the walls celebrating different families. That is a nice start. Some children have two mamas and some parents have two daddies - let's have that represented on the wall.
“One in 10 people identify as being LGBT. They shouldn't feel they can't be part of the community.”The Independent