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Making schools more inclusive

Most of us weren't taught LGBTQ+ inclusion growing up. But things are changing. Last year it became compulsory in secondary school curriculums. We’ve come a long way. But there is still a long way to go. For LGBTQ+ history month, Donya from our Disrupting Exploitation team gave a talk at her sister's school on her sexuality and the activists who fought for LGBTQ+ rights.



Two girls linking with a rainbow flag

Stage fright

As a queer woman, LGBTQ+ history month is really important to me. Understanding this, my older sister invited me to deliver a presentation to her students at Kingsmead secondary school during an online assembly celebrating LGBTQ+ history month. 

My initial reaction was that of fear. I didn’t come out during secondary school and I silently witnessed the homophobic bullying that can occur in schools. Imagining me coming out to an entire assembly of young people was both hilarious and daunting. Especially as I’ve not even come out to my own father because of his religious views.  

Cause to celebrate

Then I remembered we didn’t celebrate LGBTQ+ history month when I was in school. I felt a responsibility to talk openly about my sexuality. To raise the profile on the activists, the civil rights movements, the battles that were won that have given us the rights we value so much today.

I started the presentation talking about myself, my background in Psychology and my career path into the charity sector. I knew that it would be important. I wanted them to know you are so much more than just your sexuality.

Teaching lessons

She taught us all a valuable lessons that it’s ok to be different She taught us all a valuable lessons that it’s ok to be different

– Boy, aged 11

Lessons learnt

Delivering this presentation was an opportunity for me to learn more about LGBTQ+ history. I was fascinated by the social-cultural attitudes in post-war Britain and how society placed so much emphasis on traditional gender roles and the nuclear family.

Learning about police brutality in late 60s America was unnerving; understanding that the Stonewall Riots was triggered by police aggression forced me to reflect on how much had changed.

Fighting for equality

Girl points to rainbow button on shirt

Fighting for equality

One of the first questions asked of me was “do you care about race too and speak out about racism?” I explained that this was something that I was passionate about and was part of my job. I talked about the racism my dad had experienced when I was younger and my work in school exclusions.

I wanted to make it clear that I advocate for equality for everyone.

Fighting for equality

I anticipated that there would be some immaturity from young people when talking about LGBTQ+ rights, as this was my experience when I was in school too. I witnessed one young person sign onto Zoom using the name “No Gays Allowed” and another young person make homophobic comments in the chat box. This did not offend me, as I recognised that a lot of homophobia is rooted in fear, that sexuality is largely repressed in our culture and that some young people are not fully comfortable with their sexuality at that age.

There were also really lovely comments from young people that made me feel proud that I’d had an impact on them.

I loved her assembly so much because it was very interesting and she was super kind