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Teachers ‘should support drag queen story time to boost inclusivity in schools’

Inviting LGBT+ authors into schools can help challenge the ‘heteronormative culture and curriculum’ in education, a union has said.

Eleanor Busby
Wednesday 05 April 2023 16:24 BST
(James Manning/PA)
(James Manning/PA) (PA Wire)

Teachers should support drag queen story time events to create a “more inclusive atmosphere” in schools, an education union has suggested.

More schools should be encouraged to set up LGBT+ spaces and lunch clubs for pupils, the National Education Union’s (NEU) annual conference heard.

A motion passed at the conference said initiatives, like drag queen story time, and inviting LGBT+ authors into schools can “help challenge the heteronormative culture and curriculum” in education.

It comes after a far-right protest was held outside Tate Britain in February, where a drag queen storytelling event was being held for children.

The motion called on the union’s executive to publicly support initiatives like drag queen story time, “to develop a more inclusive atmosphere in schools”.

The Government is seriously failing to support trans people which means the creation of LGBT+ spaces and networks in schools and colleges is now more necessary

Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of the NEU

Delegates voted for the union to work with LGBT+ educators to create guidance on how to set up LGBT+ spaces or lunch clubs so more schools participate and the spaces become “usualised” through practice.

Darren Nuttall, a teacher from Rotherham, said: “There are still pupils and teachers that will pick on LGBT+ students.

“Let’s give the kids the support they deserve and the spaces they deserve.”

The motion, which was passed at the conference in Harrogate, said some schools “have not allowed LGBT+ authors into schools”.

Delegate Sara Hope told the conference it took her almost a decade to find an LGBT+ safe space when she was a student, adding: “For many of our LGBT+ students in schools right now things haven’t really changed.

“Help protect our LGBT+ students in schools by creating more safe spaces and LGBT+ clubs.”

The motion added: “The Government is creating a hostile environment for trans people through the use of Section 35 to block the Scottish Gender Recognition Reform Act.

“This has encouraged the far-right to organise further attacks on drag queen story time and has created an atmosphere where hate crime can thrive.”

Help protect our LGBT+ students in schools by creating more safe spaces and LGBT+ clubs

Delegate Sara Hope

Shelby Millard, from Sutton, told the conference she had spoken to drag queens who run a story time session in London who said they “were quite sick of having to go places with police escort just so they are safe”.

She added: “The fact that Rishi Sunak has used Section 35 to stop the Scottish Gender Recognition Reform Act is sickening.

“He is supporting the far-right attacks on drag queen story time. He is supporting the murder of beautiful souls like Brianna (Ghey). He is saying hate and abuse is fine. We won’t stand for this.”

Transgender teenager Brianna Ghey, from Birchwood, Warrington, was found with fatal stab wounds on a path in Culcheth Linear Park on February 11. A boy and a girl, both aged 15, have been charged with Brianna’s murder.

After the debate on Wednesday, an NEU spokesperson said: “The teacher concerned unreservedly apologises for the wording in her conference speech. She apologises and withdraws the specific allegation that Rishi Sunak supported the murder of a young trans girl.

“Many trans and non-binary teachers feel strongly that the Government is not doing enough to support them but it is essential that we always debate policy solutions in calm and measured ways.”

On the passing of the motion, Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of the NEU, said: “Teachers need time and support to develop curriculum resources which are inclusive and representative, and such time for building a creative curriculum is in very short supply.

“The Government is seriously failing to support trans people which means the creation of LGBT+ spaces and networks in schools and colleges is now more necessary.”

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