Teaching and pastoral staff at maintained and independent schools in the South West have attended a special event to share knowledge and promote best practice in LGBT+ awareness and inclusion. Hosted by Bryanston School, following its recent Stonewall School Champion gold award, the LGBT+ Knowledge Exchange – the first event of its type to be held in the region – was attended by staff from schools in Poole, Wimborne, Blandford, Gillingham, Sherborne, Warminster and Calne.
The afternoon event featured insightful contributions from Professor Jonathan Glazzard, who runs the UK’s only centre for LGBT+ inclusion in education at Leeds Beckett University; Sam Mills, education programmes officer at Stonewall; and Justin Varney, a former Bryanston pupil and the director of public health at Birmingham City Council.
A series of group discussions and Q&A sessions provided the opportunity for delegates to discuss the issues, challenges and opportunities involved in supporting LGBT+ young people in schools, and practical steps for fostering a culture of awareness and inclusion.
“We’re delighted the workshop was so well attended and highlighted the inspirational work of so many different schools,” said Claire Miller, head of boarding at Bryanston. “It’s so important to share knowledge, learn from the experiences of others, and share resources and insight with peers to help eliminate homophobic, biphobic and transphobic language and bullying, and to create a more supportive and inclusive educational environment for our young LGBT+ people.
“The feedback from delegates has been very positive, and I have no doubt this kind of event will help to ensure compliance with regulatory and curriculum requirements, such as the Equality Act. I hope it will also act as a catalyst for a proactive regional network of education professionals to promote respect and understanding of LGBT+ people and issues throughout the region’s school communities.”
The event followed Bryanston securing its gold award from Stonewall, Europe’s largest LGBT+ rights charity. It was given in recognition of the school’s sustained commitment to embedding LGBT+ awareness, respect and inclusion, throughout the culture and ethos of the school.