The importance of school diversity week

It has been delightful this week that there has been so much activity in schools in support of School Diversity Week, an important initiative celebrating LGBT equality. Thanks to campaigns such as this, young people are becoming more confident in embracing who they are, and many schools are leading the way in building inclusive and welcoming environments.

This government fully supports LGBT equality, which is why the Prime Minister helped to launch School Diversity Week and why on Tuesday, the Government launched its LGBT Action Plan, in response to the national LGBT survey.

The results of the survey showed us that more needs to be done to improve the experiences of LGBT people in the UK. Many teachers still do not feel comfortable being open about their sexuality at work. In the survey’s education section, respondents said that they felt that disclosing the fact that they were LGBT would be a huge professional risk. Mostly this was down to a fear of what others would think but some teachers said that they had been ‘forced’ to leave a job because of their sexual orientation. This is unacceptable and we must do more to ensure that teachers feel comfortable and supported if they want to be open about their identity.

I would like to see teaching become one of the most inclusive of professions; more needs to be done to remove the barriers that can prevent teachers from progressing in their career because of their identity. Crucial to this is having strong, visible LGBT role models who promote greater understanding of what it is to be LGBT and challenge social norms and stereotypes.

The creation of the LGBTed network is a significant step in supporting the whole of this community including lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people, and it was a great pleasure to support its official launch in June this year. I welcome the initiative that LGBTed have taken to establish and promote a network of LGBT role models and allies to support LGBT teachers to be able to be the best version of themselves at work.

When people are confident being their true selves in the workplace, they feel motivated, empowered, and perform better in their jobs. This cannot happen without a safe, supportive school environment. I therefore encourage all school leaders to get involved with this movement, learn from best practice and create an inclusive school culture where diversity is celebrated.