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Creating an LGB Inclusive Curriculum in Primary Schools

Inclusive language. Encourage staff to reflect upon the language they use when teaching and talking to young people about families and relationships. Simple switches, such as replacing phrases like “mum and dad” with “parents and carers” or “whoever’s at home”, let young people know that there is no one way for a family to be, and that their teachers don’t expect their home lives to look a certain way.

Don’t panic - adapt it. One common barrier to making an LGB inclusive curriculum can be the worry that there isn’t enough time to create new lesson plans. Bypass this mental block by adapting your existing lessons and resources to make them LGB inclusive—there’s no need to worry about devising a whole new syllabus!

Easy changes: Maths. Humanities subjects aren’t the only lessons that can be used to make your curriculum more LGB inclusive. Scenario-based maths questions offer a good opportunity to recognise LGB relationships. These scenarios don’t need to be drawn attention to; they just need to be there. Making sure that maths lessons are LGB inclusive will help ensure that your curriculum is LGB inclusive in a consistent way.

Easy changes: Science. Lessons about animals and the natural world provide a good opportunity to discuss same-sex attraction in other species in a non-emotional, non-judgemental manner. Drawing young people’s attention to gender roles in other species can be a great jumping-off point for discussing and thinking critically about gender stereotypes young people face in their own lives, stereotypes that often lie behind homophobic and biphobic bullying.

Easy changes: English. English lessons present lots of possibilities for exploring LGB themes and gender stereotypes, so make sure to include poems by LGB authors and stories with LGB themes! These texts could simply provide a backdrop for spelling and grammar work, or they could be foregrounded to provide a stimulus for exploring topics such as: presentations of masculinity and femininity and why it’s OK not to live up to gender stereotypes; or LGB experiences and how societal attitudes have changed in recent decades.

Easy changes: Languages. When learning foreign vocabulary about families, relationships, and personal identity, make sure to include LGB-specific vocabulary. Give students the chance to practice these terms, perhaps by translating short biographies of contemporary celebrities who are gay, lesbian or bisexual. You might be able to make links across the curriculum by coordinating LGB-inclusive language classes with history lessons on LGBT legislation in Britain and the rest of the world.

Using storybooks. There are plenty of high-quality children’s books that feature same-sex parents and challenge gender stereotypes. This literature is age-appropriate, subtle, and adaptable. Children’s books can be the basis for PSHE lessons, used as a stimulus for activities, games or role plays, or left on the shelves for the young people to stumble across. For examples of literature, please see EqualiTeach’s Reflecting Diversity in the Classroom catalogue: https://www.equaliteach.co.uk/our-work/#Resources or visit Letterbox Library’s website: www.letterboxlibrary.com

LGB contributions. LGB individuals have made invaluable contributions to every subject on the curriculum. Celebrate these contributions and teach your young people about LGB history with educational classroom displays—perhaps the life and work of Alan Turing can be taught and displayed in an I.T. classroom, for example. You needn’t only choose historical figures, of course; perhaps your young people would be interested to find out that celebrities they cherish are gay, lesbian, or bisexual.

Don’t close down conversations. Make sure that you respond to young people’s questions about LGB identities. Young people don’t live in a bubble and will encounter same-sex relationships either in their everyday lives or in the media, and this may generate questions. Ensure that young people know that they can ask you questions and that you answer these in an age-appropriate and sensitive manner. You can provide opportunities for young people to ask questions anonymously too, for example, by having an ‘ask-it basket’ or ‘wonder wall’ in your classroom. You don’t need to have all of the answers at your fingertips, questions can be returned to once you have carried out the necessary research to answer them appropriately.

Share Ideas. Strengthen your school’s approach by getting together with colleagues to find links across the whole curriculum. By doing this, you can pool resources, save time, build upon each other’s initiatives, and ensure that consistent standards prevail across the entire curriculum.

Further reading:

Stonewall have produced a comprehensive resource for making an LGBT inclusive primary school, which includes a section on how to adapt a curriculum. The ‘Using storybooks’ suggestion above is derived from this Stonewall resource, which is available here: https://www.stonewall.org.uk/sites/default/files/stonewall_primary_best_practice_guide_2018_-_final.pdf

TES have produced an article about making your whole school, not just your curriculum, LGBT inclusive. The article is available at: https://www.tes.com/news/7-steps-making-your-school-more-lgbtq-inclusive

Educate and Celebrate’s website hosts excellent KS2 lesson plans for thinking critically about gender stereotypes: http://www.educateandcelebrate.org/product/ks2-english-3/