Celebrating the launch of LGBTed

Celebrating the launch of LGBTed

Over the last few years I have watched in awe the wonderful work BAMEed and WomenEd have been doing to address the issues of bias in our education system and to affect real change for our schools, so as an out and proud gay woman I was inspired to set up LGBTed with my colleague and co-founder Daniel Gray.

LGBTed is a grassroots movement that will build a network of LGBT+ teachers and leaders, empowering them to be their authentic selves in schools, colleges and universities, to support students and advocate for increasing LGBT+ visibility in our education system.

So we’re proud to announce its official launch on 2nd June this year!

Our journeys in education

Daniel and I have very different stories, very different journeys.

I have worked in education but not in schools for almost my entire career and Daniel is a teacher.

Despite the differences in our careers, we share some fundamental and heart-breaking truths - both of us have had to cover up who we really are for some part of that journey. We’ve had to spend time and effort on explaining, defending, or hiding our lives when we could have been using that energy to teach our children, or to support our leaders, and both of us have heard our own stories played back to us by others far too many times.

We’ve also both had difficult personal journeys coming out; our families not being the unconditional givers of love we’d imagined but the people who put new terms on their love for us and created hostile, unfathomable home environments in which we tried to grow in spite of that.

I know I turned to education for my guidance, my comfort and for love – luckily I found it, and so did Daniel but I truly believe- were that not the case, we might not be here today.

That’s why it’s so important for us to work with the LGBT+ community and the great many allies we’ve already met across the sector to create a system of inclusivity and of love and respect for difference- because it is our collective responsibility to make sure that our children grow up in a society without hate.

The under-representation of the LGBT+ community

Our challenge is somewhat different to our BAMEed and WomenEd colleagues, because we know there is a huge problem with under-representation of the LGBT+ community in education, but before that we need to shine a light on the stifling effect of hetero and cis-normativity. 

Assumptions, stereotypes and prejudice aside, you can’t see LGBT+ people and so we have to choose to share who we are every day, in every new job, with every new colleague and every class. In doing so we expose ourselves to judgement, intolerance and bigotry – these are not the words we should be associating with education. Ever.

For our trans colleagues, we know the battle is incredibly complex and awareness is terrifyingly low.

Being your authentic self

For me it’s simple: people perform better at work when they can be their authentic selves, when the culture of that organisation creates conditions in which they don’t have to hide who they are.   

When that happens people are happier in their jobs, they’re more productive, they’re more committed, healthier, and more likely to stay. This isn’t my opinion, the research tells us that this is the case.

And in education now more than ever, we need to be casting our net far and wide to attract, progress, and perhaps, most critically, retain a more diverse pool of teachers and leaders. Not just because there is a solid business case for diversity, or even that it’s the law (Equality Act 2010) but because we have a moral duty to show our students the richness that exists in their society, because, you can’t be what you can’t see.

What LGBTed plans to do

We’re working to encourage people to come out at work and be more authentic. We aim to do this by building a national network of teachers and leaders who can support each other and discuss live issues.

We also want to give advice and support to LGBT+ allies to ensure they can put the necessary policies and practices in place to be LGBT+ inclusive from the staffroom to the classroom.

 

Join the movement on Twitter @LGBTedUK so we can be the role models we needed when we were at school and get your ticket to the official LGBTed launch here.

Hannah Jepson is Director of Assessment and Selection at Ambition School Leadership and Daniel Gray is a middle leader at Harris Academy, South Norwood.