Today, May 17th, is International Day Against Homophobia.
Two thirds of LGBT kids and teens in Britain suffer homophobic bullying in school. They are three times as likely to commit suicide as a result.
Straight kids suffer too—either from fearing to be open about LGBT friends and relatives, or from pressure to conform to gender stereotypes.
Kids pick up on prejudiced attitudes from all sorts of places—and all too often, they lack a positive LGBT role model in their lives.
I’d like to share with you some of the work being done to change this by Diversity Role Models. DRM is a registered charity that was set up following the suicide of a fifteen-year-old boy who was bullied because he was perceived to be gay.
The charity sends speakers – “Role Models”- into schools to run workshops on the subject of homophobia. The Role Models speak frankly about their own lives, answer questions, promote discussion—and show the kids that LGBT people really aren’t any different from anyone else.
The results they achieve are truly outstanding.
Meeting role models who explain their experiences and life stories helped many of our students understand the bullying and difficulties that many LGBT people face as they make the journey to adulthood. This process of ‘usualising’ being LGBT allowed many students to question previously held beliefs and develop their confidence to reject and challenge the casual use of ‘gay’ as a term of abuse...
Since the workshops, many of the students who attended them have talked to staff about diversity and difference – and are clearly opposed to the discrimination against LGBT people that still exists in British society – Assistant Head, South London Secondary School
The role models were a complete revelation ranging from an actor in a well known TV soap to a senior vice- president of a major bank. They talked about their experiences and answered questions with ease.
The students got so much from it but gave a lot to the session too. They were open about their feelings and thoughts on a range of issues and talked about the experiences in their lives and families - Assistant Head, North London Secondary School
You can see what the students think about the workshops here – sample comments:
“before I thought gay people and lesbien (sic) people are disgusting now I don’t, I think there the same people as others”
“before I was a little scared and uncomfortable but now I feel better”
The results speak for themselves: