At the EIS event "Taking Pride in Teaching LGBT+ Young People", EIS members took part in a panel session on practical tips from implementing LGBT+ Inclusive education.
The Professional Learning Co-Ordinator welcomed Adam Roy from Gowanbank Primary, Izzie Kerr from Dunbar Grammar School, and Steven Sorely from Mearns Castle High School, who had volunteered via the EIS LGBT Network to take part in a panel session outlining their own work advancing LGBT+ inclusion in their own settings.
Each panel member briefly described their activities and successes leading on this topic, which variously included setting up LGBT+ Allies Groups in schools, supporting LGBT+ inclusive practices in early years and ASN settings, and supporting LGBT+ awareness activities across the year.
The first question from the Chair, around what were some of the challenges faced by panel members in developing and delivering LGBT+ inclusive education? Their own perceptions were identified by all three panel members as a challenge, as was the views of others, and funding. Ways to address the challenges included building confidence in their own identity, knowing legislation, and taking a solutions-focused way of working to management.
Panel members were then asked to reflect on what were their first steps in initiating LGBT+ inclusive practices in their settings. Attendees heard that effective first steps included asking pupils what they want and need, facilitating workshops with parents and carers to understand the aims of the work, and exploring available resources and options, including outside support such as LGBT Youth Scotland.
An EIS member asked for tips around meaningfully including primary 1 and 2 children in LGBT+ inclusive education. Panel members highlighted the wealth of materials available for young people around the topic, such as books 'King and King', 'And Tango Makes Three' and short videos such as 'In a Heartbeat'. The important aspect is to use these materials to make LGBT+ education part of everyday education.
An EIS member asked panel members how they ensure pupils take ownership of inclusion initiatives, rather than it being an additional ongoing responsibility for teachers. The overwhelming answer was to move from a mindset and language use of working for pupils, to work with pupils. Additionally, listening to what young people have to say, and building on these ideas.
An EIS member asked how to tackle questions and concerns from pupils, parents and carers around the inclusion of the topic in education. The importance of having support from senior management was highlighted, as was the support of colleagues.
This returned to the earlier point of the importance of having an evidence base, including figures around the attainment gap for LGBT+ young people. One technique offered was to compare ‘like for like’, LGBT+ being just one protected characteristic, as is race and disability.
An EIS member asked for the panel’s advice on considering where they want to work after their probationary year: especially for LGBT+ teachers, is it more valuable to go somewhere which has an existing enthusiasm for LGBT+ inclusion so you can participate effectively, or is there a duty on teachers to lead on this topic in institutions where LGBT+ inclusion faces more challenges? The panel drew from their own experiences to advise there are many aspects to choosing a place of work, and the decision should never be related to only one aspect of identity.
Feedback from attendees noted this session as a significant highlight, and especially that hearing directly from other members about their experiences of implementing inclusive education was inspiring and motivating for attendees own practice.