LGBTQ+ in education

In March I will be running a workshop at the ASCL Annual Conference  where this year’s theme is ’Diverse Leadership’. As founder of LGBTed, I have been fortunate to work with ASCL and seen first-hand the Association’s commitment to delivering change in the sector. LGBTed is proud to be partnering with ASCL and delighted to be able to showcase our work at the Annual Conference, continuing the conversation about why LGBTQ+ Inclusion is vitally important. 

At LGBTed we think it’s vitally important that children and staff have role models from the LGBTQ+ community. The old adage ‘you can’t be what you can’t see’ rings so true still and for someone who didn’t have any role models at school, I know how damaging that can be. We know self-harm is disproportionately high amongst members of the LGBT community and we know that the average life expectancy of someone from the transgender community is 35. It makes me unbelievably sad that someone should feel so isolated and ashamed to the extent they would harm themselves, often with devastating consequences. If people have role models who are proud to be members of the LGBTQ+ community that can send such a powerful message to our aspiring leaders of the future (staff and children). It says: I’m me, and you can be you too. 

I wasn’t always ‘out’ at work, but after one particularly difficult experience I vowed never to hide who I was again. I would be me and I would make sure that I chose places that allowed me to do so. 

I consider myself a role model at work, to my team and my peers and I’m committed to living by these rules every single day: 

Lead with pride: talk about what you did at the weekend, be open about who you are, talk about the things you are passionate about and champion initiatives you feel can make a change. It’s important to be a leader who knows who they are and isn’t afraid to show it. 

Enable others to be themselves: by leading with pride you’ll give others the confidence to be themselves. Remember, diversity isn’t just about LGBTQ+, it’s about diversity of thought, of working style and communication. We need to encourage people not to fit in with the dominant leadership style and to bring their true selves to work. 

Speak up against homophobia, biphobia and transphobia: speak up, and particularly if hetero and cisnormativity  dominate your organisation. People may not realise the impact of their language or behaviour.

Be honest: always. People work better when they can be authentic so try to bring your whole self to work where you can.

Integrity matters: even if it feels uncomfortable, it’s important to persist in championing diversity even if it isn’t always easy to do so. 

Allies are important: as an LGBT role model it’s important to understand who your allies are; they can be a powerful driver of change in your organisation. 

Never give up: Never. Give. Up. 

If you’re coming to Annual Conference, I hope you’ll come and speak to me or join me at my workshop  where I’ll be talking about some of the practical steps schools and colleges can take to ensure they are being LGBTQ+ inclusive for both staff and students. 

Follow @LGBTedUK  on Twitter or find out more about the work of LGBTed here

Hannah Jepson is co-founder and Director of LGBTed, a network of LGBT+ teachers and leaders, empowering them to be authentic in schools, colleges and universities, to support students and to be an advocate for increasing LGBT+ visibility in our education system.

Hannah’s workshop, LGBTQ+ Inclusion in Education: Letting go of the past and hopes for the future, is at 11.30am on Saturday 14 March. 
Posted: 20/01/2020 09:24:09