February 10, 2016, by Michael Jennings
Out in Education – increasing LGBT awareness in schools, one year on
Out in Education is a student-led project which takes Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trans* (LGBT*) students into local schools to share their experiences in order to increase the understanding of LGBT* issues among young people.
The questions we receive from young people vary tremendously and although attitudes are changing – one pupil expressed that they didn’t think gay people should have to “come out” as it isn’t a big deal anymore – we still hear from young people who feel unsupported in their school after coming out.
In my experience, the levels of acceptance and understanding vary from school to school, and unfortunately the schools who are willing to have us visit are often the schools who are already doing a lot to create an inclusive school atmosphere. However, we are reaching more and schools every term and as Ofsted now asks pupils about their knowledge and experiences of homophobia within schools, there is more motivation for schools to be working with us.
In addition to continuing with our main aim of creating a more inclusive school environment for local LGBT* young people through student-led assemblies and workshops, Out in Education have achieved some great things since last LGBT* History Month.
We met alumni whose kind and generous donations allowed us to grow when we attended the Cascade donors event in London. We had a great time hearing stories about their time at university. We also did some fundraising of our own with a stationary bike ride to Russia, which helped to raise awareness of discrimination still being faced by LGBT* people around the world today as well as allowing us to reach more schools.
We also celebrated the amazing work of local organisations. In April we hosted the Out in Education Prizes and Awards Ceremony. Among those celebrated were local schools, students projects, youth groups, and local councils. As well as handing out awards, we’ve received a couple too! At The University of Nottingham Students’ Union Student Volunteer Awards we came runner up for in the Project of the Year category despite only having been working with the volunteer centre for a few months. More recently, our founder Lucy Wake was awarded The University of Nottingham Vice Chancellor’s Medal for her work with Out in Education.
It’s been an exciting year for us and we’re looking forward to continuing and building on our successes.
Make sure to like us on Facebook for information about getting involved. As part of LGBT* History Month we will be posting resources for students, teachers and parents, and will also shine the spotlight on a historical LGBT figure each week.