NEU LGBT+ Educator’s Conference 2018 – Report

NEU LGBT+ Educator’s Conference 2018 Report
Jake Jones (Newham)

Key take-aways:
– Ensuring schools take a whole school approach towards LGBT+ inclusion
– Reviewing policies to ensure LGBT+ issues are covered, particularly for trans* staff and students
– Working on delivering CPD to staff in order to better support them in LGBT+ students

Summary of Conference (& see end of post for printable download)
(Workshops attended: Gendered Intelligence and The Proud Trust. Caucuses: Trans Educators)

The overwhelming mood of the conference was that we are happy with the strides that have been made towards LGB inclusion in schools and the NEU but that there were major concerns about the inclusion of our trans* colleagues and students, particularly in light of recent press surrounding prominent members of the union. There is still, however, work to be done surrounding LGB inclusion as well. We also agreed that a focus on intersectionality was necessary in order to be successful in our inclusion of LGBT+ colleagues.

One main concern brought up was the use of language in the classroom, staff rooms and at union meetings. There is a need for colleagues to be better educated on how to use language to confidently discuss LGBT+ issues with students and that it was the responsibility of the NEU to help provide guidelines on how this is done so we can standardise across schools and our members, as well as the responsibility of individual staff/staff groups to champion in their schools. We also spoke about what words we should be using and to focus on the language of young people in order to allow them to access understanding of LGBT+ people and relationships better.

There was also a question of resources made available to schools, including harmful documents such as ‘Transgender Trend’ being sent out to schools and implemented by institutions without due attention or concern to the actual content of the documents and procedures. In addition, we discussed the need for Senior Leadership Teams in schools to update their policies to be more inclusive of LGBT+ students and staff. Issues of exclusion were brought up around bullying, behavioural, pastoral and dress code policies and how these can be exclusive towards LGBT+ staff and students.

Finally, we shared good practice in schools and what could be done to further this. We agreed that visibility of LGBT+ role models in schools was one of the most important things we can do for our students. This could be staff that are out in school and feel safe to be out, but this could also take the shape of LGBT+ experts represented across the curriculum. This visibility can also be achieved with LGBT+ books made available in the library and LGBT+ texts and media being studied in different subjects to give students an in-context understanding of LGBT+ people. We cited time as a major barrier to this, with some delegates commenting on their PPA being used to set them cover – something that needs to be seriously addressed.

Other good practice shared was also; celebratory/pride activities centred on LGBT+, creating safe spaces for LGBT+ students and staff to discuss issues pertinent to them, groups allowing students to organise these celebratory activities and safe spaces, accessing resources (e.g. Proud Trust’s Genderbread resource) and implementing them in tutor time or PSHRE. Importance was placed on creating the space to discuss LGBT+ issues in schools. Free resources were also cited to be available from:
– The Proud Trust
– Stonewall
– Queer Futures
– Youth Chances
– Mermaids
– It’s Pronounced Metrosexual (some problematic language used)

There were three motions presented and passed (with all amendments) at the conference. Motion A moved to provide greater union support to our LGBT+, Black and Disabled colleagues when they face discrimination and harassment in the workplace, with rule changes to when NEU disciplinary and appeals procedures are undertaken to ensure these colleagues are protected. Motion B moved that the NEU should create a working group aiming to create packs and workshops to be delivered in schools, promote and disseminate good practice throughout the union, work with training providers to produce equalities modules for trainee teachers, and set up a working group to create a NEU LGBT+ Schools charter to set a benchmark for expectations. Motion C moved to provide clarity for members, officers and staff on accepted terminology and language use including mandatory training for all representatives. Motion A was voted to be taken to the Annual General Meeting this year.

NEU LGBT+ Educators Conference Report 2018
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