What will have the most impact? Policies, curriculum maps are essential foundations - but not enough.
It had to be an assembly for each year. I began gathering ideas and supporters. Now, I am fortunate here. I have two fabulous colleagues in the English department, and also a group of tremendous Year 12 students. We decided that a mix of information and role play would work well. The group rehearsed two short role plays, and I went away to write the rest of it.
The first role play was a hoot, involving myself and a colleague dressed up in school uniform. One of the Y12s played the teacher who'd just confronted one of us about our appalling uniform. The detention, our next lesson and the world in general was, of course, just SO GAY.
The second was a conversation between the Y12s, with one of them recounting an embarrassing anecdote and the others commenting how "gay" it was. This time, one of them challenged the use of the word - to which the reply was that of course they didn't "mean" anything by it.
The slides that followed looked at how this certainly wasn't "harmless banter"; how every time language like that gets used, it builds a wall between the majority and the minority. For me, this was the point where I stepped up and started using "me" and "I" quite a lot. The bit that really hit home was the slide where I said "Would you say, 'That's so Black' or 'That's so disabled' or 'That's so Asian'?"
We finished with me introducing our rainbow badges. I'd ordered a batch of really neat pin badges - enough for my staff and Y12s. I said - if you see someone wearing one, it means we want to listen to you. Some of us are gay - like me - and some of us are straight - but we all are here to help and support.
I have been delighted with the responses. Students came up after the assemblies; so many staff and sixth formers want badges that more have been ordered. We now have the momentum that I so wanted. My next step is to grow an Equalities Group from the School Council. Because of the assemblies, I now know clearly who will want to be involved. The School Council is meeting this week and will discuss it. We’ve also been approached by the local authority who are looking to set up a local LGBTQ group.
None of this would have been possible without Stonewall. I cannot sing their praises highly enough. Their materials provided powerful statistics for the assembly; their training sessions are superb. We also have a county LGBT partnership which has been really helpful. There is a lot of support out there. If there’s any way you can have a gay member of staff visibly involved, then that’s the best thing of all. I’ll confess I was daunted – but it’s been SO worth it.