There has been a major media frenzy over the past few days in regard to the proposed LGBT school to be opened in Manchester if plans are put into place. Many people have voiced their support for the initiative, however, others have turned against it in dismay. I believe that the story speaks volumes on British society. Why should children who identify themselves as gay be forced out of mainstream education and into a separate school, fuelling divisions amongst our youth even more? In wider society, as well as schools and even at home, we should be teaching equality and tolerance. We should not need a special LGBT school, we should be tackling the underlying problem in our schools: bullying. Government and schools need to prepare children in secondary schools for diversity that makes this country great. A number of initiatives have been deployed by government to tackle bullying and also in sex education, however, hate-crime and alternative sexual lifestyles are still taboo! Teenagers should be taught as a group about both straight and LGBT safe sex etc, rather than flaming the segregation that has arisen. To me, this story shows the ignorance and prejudice that lives in our communities across the British isles.
The Manchester-based charity, LGBT Youth North West, are behind the scheme which would provide education for 40 pupils who have suffered from bullying in school. Amelia Lee who works for the charity, told The Guardian the main reason behind the school – “Despite the laws that claim to protect gay people from homophobic bullying, the truth is that in schools especially, bullying is still incredibly common and causes young people to feel isolated and alienated, which often leads to truanting and, in the worst-case scenarios, to suicide.” Her claim is true, anyone who has enjoyed the experience of state education, regardless of your sexuality, will have witnessed the persecution some face on a daily-basis. However, society and government should be looking to rid our schools of this intolerance. Balanced and thorough teaching of all lifestyles in Personal, Social, Health and Economic (PSHE) education and age appropriate sex & relationship education (SRE) should be made LGBT inclusive. A great range of diversity needs to be taught so that our children can be responsible adults in future life, work and a developing Britain. It is critical to deal with the problem now to avoid a future of bullying and cyber-bullying that reaches an excessive level where bullying crosses the front door at home, is there when children go to sleep and as soon as they wake up. Children shouldn’t be moved to separate schools, they should be supported in schools by teachers and pupils alike.
Many adults believe that you cannot force ideas and opinions on children within the school environment. Nevertheless, there is no need to mould our children’s beliefs, we just need to ensure that thy are open-minded. Teach tolerance, respect, cooperation, and values which make Britain a showcase for diversity in the western world. It is sad that children still face homophobia in modern Britain. The story of bullying, a regular occurrence, is an embarrassment on society and a challenge that we all face as parents, in the workplace, and in our communities.
By James Metcalfe, Editor for Daily Political View.