The headteacher and students at Langley Park School for Girls give their view on the amount of support that has been given to the LGBTQ+ community.

For many years, students have raised questions over what is being done to support them if they are LGBTQ+. Many educational institutions are embracing their role as a support system for young people whilst others are looking to improve.

At Langley Park School for Girls, they have put measures in place to help. Two gender neutral toilets have been installed and they have allocated funding to have a Stonewall (a British charity who campaigns for the equality of lesbian, gay, bi and trans people) champion. The school also ensures there is support for trans students who are transitioning as well as giving training to all members of staff.

Despite this, some students at the school believe more should be done. One student thinks that “At school they do some stuff on hetero relationships regarding sex but they haven’t done much regarding same sex relationships and I think a lot of people may be unsure of how to stay safe”. Another claims that “all the work was student led” and they “want to feel like they (their school) made an effort with our education”.

Margaret Thatcher’s infamous Section 28 of the 1988 Local Government Act stated that “A local authority shall not intentionally promote homosexuality or publish material with the intention of promoting homosexuality” or “promote the teaching in any maintained school of the acceptability of homosexuality as a pretended family relationship.” Many students grew up in a world ignorant to the lives of the LGBTQ+ community and was faced with a constant stream of opposed heteronormativity as well as gender normativity. It was repealed on 18 November 2003, after years of fighting, for the rest of the UK after Scotland had revoked it 2 years earlier.

Headteachers see a spectrum of views regarding what should be taught. Being LGBTQ+ goes strongly against some religious beliefs which some parents choose to vocalise to the school. Ms Katie Scott, headteacher at Langley Park School for Girls, said that “parents write to me and say it shouldn’t be covered”. However other parents/guardians are of a differing opinion: “parents in a same sex relationship came up to me two events ago and said that this awareness has really helped them”. She also thinks it is of paramount importance that “school is a safe place as not everyone has support of home”.

The lack of rapport in home life means many people feel it isn’t safe to come out to their family. Is there even a need to come out? Sadie Saunder, a student at the school, believes that “it depends on the person and situation, but generally, yeah because it’s just assumed and normalised that people are cis and straight, so if you’re not it becomes a big deal.” Homophobia and transphobia in schools have been going on for an inordinately long time. “I would say at school the main problem is ignorance,” says Sadie, “Educate teachers first”.

Amelia Downs