THE RAINBOW PROJECT AND CARA-FRIEND CALL FOR EQUALITY LAWS TO BE EXTENDED TO SCHOOLS AND LAUNCH CURRICULUM GUIDE HELPING TEACHERS TACKLE HOMOPHOBIA IN SCHOOLS

Today (Wednesday 12th October) The Rainbow Project and Cara-Friend launch their report on education in Northern Ireland and their Education Equality Curriculum Guide for Teachers.

The Education Equality Curriculum Guide, which has been produced by Cara-Friend’s Education Training Officer, Joanna Cowley, helps teachers reduce homophobic bullying in schools by integrating positive principles that challenge prejudice and promote inclusion.

Requested by and written for teachers, the Guide provides lesson plans, resources and background information.

Joanna Cowley said ‘Many schools recognise homophobic language and bullying as being harmful to the mental health and academic attainment of young people, as well as detrimental to the school’s aims to promote inclusivity and diversity.
Success in reducing homophobic language and bullying has been achieved in schools where a zero-tolerance approach has been taken to homophobic language, and where LGBT issues and people are included in the everyday life of the school, through lessons, assemblies and displays. Measures such as these counteract the negative messages about being LGBT that young people hear daily, not least with the ubiquitous phrase “that’s so gay” conveying that someone / something is stupid, unpopular, broken, or rubbish.

Many young people are not given the courtesy of having their sexual orientation treated with privacy and respect. Instead many of our pupils experience the pain and humiliation of having their actual or perceived sexual orientation being used to intimidate and demean them. For this reason it is up to educators to challenge the negative messages about members of the LGBT community, so that pupils know they should expect to be treated with respect and dignity, regardless of their actual or perceived sexual orientation.’

She continued ‘currently, LGBT people and issues are invisible in schools, except when mentioned as a joke or an insult. This Guide offers support and guidance in challenging stereotypes and homophobic attitudes. Supporting diversity and challenging homophobia can be done using the same expertise that teachers already have, in dealing with issues such as sectarianism and racism. It is our hope that this Guide marks the beginning of a working relationship with schools, so that we can support educators to build on and sustain the progress they make.’

Cowley concluded ‘a school that has shown young people different types of families and relationships, different ways of being a man or a woman, and that has taught respect for these differences, will increase those young people’s success in many walks of life; but chiefly in their personal relations as individuals, friends, family members and co-workers, who look back on their school years with feelings of fondness, belonging, and pride.’

For information regarding The Education Equality Curriculum Guide please contact:

Joanna Cowley

T: 02890890202

E: Joanna.cowley@cara-friend.org.uk

The Curriculum Guide will be launched at 4.30pm in the VIP Suite, with opening remarks from Mr John O’Dowd MLA, Acting deputy First Minister and Minister for Education. All media are invited

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