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First of all, the fact you’re reading this demonstrates your commitment to inspiring LGBT+ acceptance and allyship in your children’s and students' lives. *Virtual High-Five!

Secondly, multiple studies have revealed that children are not born prejudiced: it is a learned behavior. This is great news! It means that we can actively help prevent our children and students from becoming homo, bi or transphobic, BUT it does largely come down to the actions that YOU (as a teacher or parent) take and how soon you implement them.

 

Hey, don’t panic! We've made things super easy for you by putting together a short LGBT+ inclusion checklist below. Have a look through and see where you might already be winning, plus what more you could do to ensure your children grow into accepting and supportive adults.

DOWNLOAD AND PRINT THIS CHECKLIST HERE

1. Positive LGBT+ Visibility

 

If a child never sees an LGBT+ person or family, how can they understand that not only do LGBT+ people exist but that LGBT+ people are a familiar and welcome part of our society?

 

Children see heterosexual or ‘straight’ relationships/families being affirmed by our society on a daily basis, so it is important that LGBT+ people are given the same chance to be similarly visible.


 

Recurring Visibility + Positive Affirmation = Familiarity + Acceptance


 

Making sure LGBT+ people are positively represented in your children’s lives can easily be achieved with diverse and inclusive content.

 

Here are a few ideas…

 

• Picture books for primary-aged children that include LGBT+ characters. (Try These)

• Longer storybooks for older children that feature an LGBT+ protagonist or theme.

• Children’s media, TV programs and films that are inclusive of LGBT+ characters.

 

Be sure these resources reflect LGBT+ people positively and demonstrate how being LGBT+ is simply just one way of being a human.

 

Avoid content that negatively portrays LGBT+ people or that only focuses on LGBT+ trauma/issues as this can reinforce negative stereotypes.

2. Real-Life Representation

 

Stories, books and characters are a great place to start but how about introducing your children to real-life LGBT+ people?

 

You could…

 

  • Introduce LGBT+ celebrities or historical/notable figures. For example, tell your children/class about people like Alan Turing or Sally Ride, including the fact that they were LGBT+. (Take a look at our classroom posters).

 

  • Visit a pride event where your children can experience the diversity of the LGBT+ community. Many UK regions now host pride events throughout the year and often include family events in their line-up. Research your local area for inclusive LGBT+ events.

 

3. Avoid Gender Stereotypes

 

Studies have found that homophobia is linked to anxieties about gender and conforming to gender stereotypes. James Lock, M.D., Ph.D.

 

Children develop the ability to recognise and label stereotypical gender groups between the ages of 18 and 24 months.

 

Children often pick up strong perceptions of what gender roles should be and can become affronted when someone breaks gender stereotypes. This can lead to ‘policing’ amongst children, including questioning, teasing, mocking and ostracising peers who don’t conform.

 

With these factors in mind, it’s clear we can all benefit from gender broadness - by this we mean not limiting anyone to behaviors and expectations defined by ‘traditional’ gender roles. For example, expecting all females to be caring and obedient, and all males to be courageous and emotionless.

 

Sometimes, we unconsciously reinforce negative gender stereotypes without us even being aware. We do this because our societies, for multiple reasons, have laid out unnecessary and limiting ‘rules’ or expectations.

 

Take a look at the list below and think about what you may have been ‘taught’ about each factor with regard to gender. How might you actively avoid passing on any negative or harmful patterns/ideas that reinforce negative gender stereotypes?

 

  • Colours

  • Toys

  • Language

  • Careers

  • Opportunities

  • Personalities

  • Appearance

  • Clothing

  • Behavior

  • Activities

 

When we indicate to children that anyone can be anything regardless of their gender, we give children more options, as well as permission and encouragement to explore their identity.

4. Learning and Discussion

 

Remember you’re not expected to know everything! If you are not sure what certain LGBT+ letters or words mean perhaps you and your children/class can learn together using a number of guides aimed at young people:

 

 

Guides like these can be a great starting point for prompting discussion as they often come with questions and talking points. You could also try using these Pop’n’Olly short videos which cover a range of LGBT+ topics:

 

 

Don’t be afraid to talk to your children about what LGBT+ means. Your children need to know that it is ok to ask about LGBT+ people/topics. It’s also really important to listen to them and address or explore any questions that may arise.

 

Finding it difficult to answer a question? That’s ok. Get in touch with us and we can try and help.

Submit your questions here.

5. Language

 

Seven in ten primary school teachers hear pupils use expressions like ‘that’s so gay' or ‘you’re so gay’ in school. - Stonewall Teachers Report

 

You don’t need to be on the direct receiving end of negative LGBT+ language to pick up on it and develop a sense of shame that who you are is always associated with something bad. The impact of indirect homophobic abuse can last many years.

 

Combat anti-LGBT language by making sure children understand what words like ‘Gay, ‘Lesbian’, ‘Bisexual’ and ‘Transgender’ actually mean and help them to understand that using these words in a negative way is hurtful to LGBT+ people.

6. Lead by Example

Children are social detectives. They are searching for clues, scraps of evidence, about whom we adults like and don’t like, who is considered ‘good’ in [our] culture and who is shunned and considered ‘bad’.

- Ref: Skinner, Meltzoff, 2018

 

Children will get a sense of how they should respond to LGBT+ topics and people from you and from other grown-ups.

 

Make sure your child knows you are an LGBT+ ally, that you openly support LGBT+ people and that you are willing to stand up for them if ever you see their human rights being compromised.

 

This doesn’t always need to be a huge action. Some simple ideas can be…

 

  • Displaying a rainbow flag

  • Wearing a rainbow badge or pin

  • Shutting down homo, bi or transphobic language/comments 

  • Offering up your pronouns when meeting someone new

 

Want More Information or Help?

Do you have a question about LGBT+ education for children? Message us HERE