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London School Claims to Have Eliminated Homophobic Bullying by Teaching Kids About Gay People

Now there's a thought.

London's Stoke Newington School shares its secrets: Stoke_newington

Pupils learn about wartime code-breaker Alan Turing, who committed suicide after he was prosecuted for his homosexuality and forced to choose between prison or taking female hormones. Gay authors Oscar Wilde and James Baldwin and artist Andy Warhol also feature in the lessons.

Music teacher Elly Barnes said she developed the lessons with colleagues five years ago, after she became concerned about pupils using "gay" as a derogatory term. Now the school plans to extend the scheme by teaching hundreds of teachers how to "educate and celebrate" being gay.

Ms Barnes aims to "eradicate homophobia from all schools" by giving staff the confidence and resources required to tackle the prejudice.

"Many schools haven't even begun to deal with homophobia," she said. "Some still think being gay is illegal in parts of the country. By looking at famous LGBT [lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender] people in history, we've changed opinions and we have had a number of pupils come out.

"We have also changed the language used in the school. I used to hear the word gay used all the time as a derogatory term. Now we hardly hear it."

Unfortunately, attempts to try these kinds of things in America have been met with cries of "indoctrination!" by Evangelicals.

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Comments

  1. "...cries of indoctrination by evangelicals."

    Well, of course. The evangelicals prefer to do the indoctrinating.

    Posted by: van | Oct 26, 2010 9:22:27 AM


  2. "...we have had a number of pupils come out."

    While any sane person would read that and understand that it's a result of being in an atmosphere where being gay is welcomed and accepted, wingnuts would claim that it's proof of the "Homosexual Agenda" to recruit kids.

    It seems they would rather gay kids just kill themselves than actually grow up to love someone with the same genitalia they themselves possess. They're quite honestly insane. Fuck the wingnuts, and more power Ms Barnes and this school. All kids need to know that it's okay and good to be exactly who they are.

    Posted by: Bojangles | Oct 26, 2010 9:26:00 AM


  3. This sounds like a great idea and more of what we need to reduce homophobia.

    Posted by: Tyler | Oct 26, 2010 9:26:09 AM


  4. Stoke Newington is famous for its lesbians (just thought you should know)

    but well done if they are managing to get the kids to share the respect around a little bit.

    Posted by: arch | Oct 26, 2010 9:28:04 AM


  5. So nice to wake up this morning and read some good news for a change.

    Posted by: David Ehrenstein | Oct 26, 2010 9:30:00 AM


  6. Interesting that the figures in their curriculum mentioned in the quotation in this post and in the link are all gay males. I sure hope that they add lesbians, transgenders and intersex figures of note to their curriculum if they are not represented already. There are plenty of LT and I's who have done wonderful things too. But the curriculum is a great start, especially the inclusion of gay men of color.

    Posted by: veg | Oct 26, 2010 9:39:12 AM


  7. I sat in on Parliament when I visited London several years ago, and they were debating protections for LGBT people. One of the MPs gave an impassioned speech including a sentence along the lines of "How can you allow religion, which is a choice, to surpass protections for sexuality, which is not?" That would never be uttered in Congress.

    Posted by: Brian | Oct 26, 2010 10:12:41 AM


  8. What's this?!

    Education & information being used to combat ignorance & prejudice???

    The writer is correct, it would never fly in the States.

    I'll bet most gay people would benefit from that course work... maybe the school will make the curriculum available for all.

    Posted by: pete | Oct 26, 2010 10:25:37 AM


  9. Hopefully this could also happen in the Untied States and help stop bullying and help other kids come-out.

    Posted by: Dawnell_do | Oct 26, 2010 11:13:45 AM


  10. This woman is delusional if she really thinks she's stopped homophobia or kids from being un-PC. But I'm sure she'll make a name for herself and she can put this achievement on her resume.

    Posted by: ratbastard | Oct 26, 2010 11:56:06 AM


  11. Duh! In my lily white NYC suburb in the 1970s we were taught about Harriet Tubman, Booker T. Washington, Rosa Parks, MLK, and other prominent black leaders. Society and TV was teaching me that black people don't live in my little world, except for maids. Education and exposure taught me respect. (P.S. It took YEARS)

    Posted by: pete | Oct 26, 2010 11:57:39 AM


  12. This school is clearly promoting the gay agenda and brainwashing their students into being decent human beings. What's the world coming to?

    Posted by: jomicur | Oct 26, 2010 12:11:19 PM


  13. Pete,

    To bad you didn't live 4 blocks away from the projects like me. It would have been an education. Books and classrooms can only teach you so much.

    Posted by: ratbastard | Oct 26, 2010 12:24:45 PM


  14. Ratbastard:

    'Men often hate each other because they fear each other; they fear each other because they don't know each other; they don't know each other because they can not communicate; they can not communicate because they are separated.' - Martin Luther King, Jr.

    By breaking down that separation, the wall built by the bigoted belief that LGBT people are something separate to the rest of humanity, by educating people about the amazing things that LGBT figures have done, an environment of increased mutual respect develops. The hate dissolves when the foundation of it is shown to be fallacious. Alan Turing pretty much invented the computer ffs! It's pretty much impossible not to respect his genius. It challenges bigotry against, and stereotypes applied to, LGBT people as a logical conclusion.

    Separation = inequality. MLK was talking about race, but separation can occur in many ways. It has to be eliminated wherever it is encountered.

    Posted by: BenB | Oct 26, 2010 12:56:27 PM


  15. Books and classrooms can only teach you so much. But they're a good start and much better than nothing.

    The UK has come a long way on gay rights since the hateful Clause 28 which prevented "promotion of homosexuality".

    Posted by: Tom Stoppard | Oct 26, 2010 12:58:48 PM


  16. Ratatwat, again that is U. Where I grew up, we got none of this and real life taught me sh*t until guess what? I started reading books and finally got respect, power and knowledge that no f*cked can keep on bulking me or put me down because I know more. And guess what? This is why I have been able to start a successful business where when I was a teen I thought I'd end up working in the supermarket.

    Imgaine if I'd had YOU as a friend? Or Teacher?

    F*ck you and thank god you're not involved in teaching or mentoring young people.

    Posted by: Rowan | Oct 26, 2010 1:06:09 PM


  17. Americans revel in their ignorance. There is even an anti-intellectual movement in America: Repulicanism.

    Posted by: Michael Barber | Oct 26, 2010 4:26:45 PM


  18. Homophobia, IMHO, goes MUCH deeper than any religious or cultural indoctrination. Some of it has to do with masculinity and femininity, and a males usually innate need to assert his masculinity and not appear weak or feminine, especially around other males. But it goes much deeper even than that. Sexuality is a human's ultimate raw nerve.

    I don't object to teaching kids about discrimination and persecution of homosexuals, using some historically prominent gays who were victims of this persecution, then wrapping it all up with a pretty bow. I just think this nice lady is grossly exaggerating her success claims.

    Posted by: ratbastard | Oct 26, 2010 8:51:08 PM


  19. You're not gonna get homophobia or sexism as it is currently understood and operates from the pleistocene. Therefore, it's a cultural accident...a meme, not an evolved trait. However, there are distinct innate differences beteen men and women.

    People ask very pedestrian questions of evo psych...and there's so much bad evo psych to go around...it's a shame, because it's a very promising field. Instead of "laughter and comedy relieves tension," ask, "why laughter and comedy relieve tension."

    Posted by: TANK | Oct 26, 2010 9:05:09 PM


  20. RB, I wholeheartedly concur. I grew up in suburban Philly, but it was far from "lily white". Yes, books and classrooms can teach only so much, but experience is a great teacher! While the blacks literally lived across the tracks, we mixed in school. Then I went to a public boarding school (owned by the state) with lotsa inner-city kids from Philly. Only 10% of my graduating class was white. BUT, in the 70s & early 80s, nothing was done about homophobia. Kids picked on me, teased me, beat me up all the time. I was called fag and similar names. (And when I was caught having sex with my roommate in h.s. - well, you can probably imagine!)

    Posted by: Timotito | Oct 27, 2010 3:58:57 AM


  21. I applaud this woman's efforts. No, she won't eliminate all homophobia or any other form of bigotry and intolerance. But she's teaching the next generation of leaders valuable lessons about accepting each other as they are. Just think, one of these kids could one day be Britain's PM or other high-ranking official. Whatever becomes of them in the years to come, they can say they had a great teacher in Ms Barnes. I hope that her colleagues take what she's begun and only make it better.

    Posted by: Timotito | Oct 27, 2010 4:04:18 AM


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