Michelle Satchwell, Guest Blog Author - Head of Social Science Department
Lucy Carey - OCR Psychology and Sociology Subject Advisor
Michelle Satchwell, a Head of Department at a large academy in Derbyshire, talks to her school student leader who leads on Equality and Diversity for the student voice initiative. They discuss LGBTQ+, the school curriculum and what teachers need to know.
I’m Fern Waddingham, a year 13 student, and I’m the Diversity and LGBTQ+ lead for the school. I’ve developed a diversity team in which myself and the Equality lead support the whole school to create awareness of minority groups, including the LGBTQ+ community.
The LGBTQ+ community is a collection of individuals with diverse sexualities, identities and romantic preferences. It includes everyone outside of the heteronormative expectations and outside strict gender binaries. The acronym LGBTQ+ stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer or questioning. However, it is not limited to those labels and includes people who are non-binary, pansexual and so on.
It’s a chance to look at the developments and progression of LGBTQ+ people, and to celebrate those who have made it possible for individuals to obtain human rights to love and be who they are, whatever their sexuality or gender identity. It’s important to celebrate, as it empowers people today and highlights discrimination that the community has once faced and still faces today.
Given the coronavirus pandemic and the recent lockdown, we were unable to go through with most of our plans. However, we’ve come up with a few ways to ensure the information still gets out there. For example, as a team we're highlighting individuals who have made a difference to the community, and making posters about film, literature and theatre for our school noticeboards.
We have an LGBTQ+ History Month assembly in February, which looks at LGBTQ+ history throughout the 20th and 21st centuries in the UK and shows changes to government policy and legislation, health care, inequality and the attitudes of the wider society.
Since the team was first created, there have already been many positive steps. However, one thing I’d like to change would be changes to the curriculum to make sure content themes are not strictly heterosexual and cisgender. For example, having LGBTQ+ inclusive PSHE and, in English, learning about different terminology and pronouns and how to refer to different people.
I think an inclusive curriculum would educate the wider society, leading to the creation of a more understanding school environment. The Equality lead and I have had regular meetings with staff and senior leadership with questions on how we can make the school environment and curriculum more inclusive, so this is something we’re working on.
Primarily when discussing relationships, going outside heterosexual relationships and talking about same sex relationships. In Sex Ed, more inclusive sex education, talking about the difference between gender and sex, understanding and respecting pronouns and stuff like that.
I think I’d like them realise that being gay, lesbian, transgender isn’t a lifestyle - I’ve heard a few teachers speak of it as it was, but it’s not a choice and it’s not something a person can change. I’d like them to be aware of terminology more, so they don’t come across as offensive or speaking in a way that could be misinterpreted. I think it is important for teachers to realise, especially in terms of gender identity, that a person’s pronouns or preferred name may be different from the one expected or formally written. I think provision should be put in place to ask students for their pronouns and preferred names.
In A Level Sociology we learn in Unit 1 about Socialisation, Culture and Identity and then social inequalities. I think it really highlights how different factors within society can affect an individual’s identity and behaviour, especially in terms of LBGTQ+ people. It definitely highlights the difficulties faced by LBGTQ+ communities both in the past and in the present. I think a lot more research is needed from a sociological perspective.
Just that it’s really important to be aware of the effects on people’s health and well-being. I think as the community continues to grow, I think it’s important that our knowledge continues to grow too, so we don’t marginalise any people or discriminate against people who are just being themselves.
I would say this generation is more open to differences. But from personal experience, I know several older people who say things like ‘love is love’ and ‘you can love whoever you want,’ and I know people who are younger who are aren’t as accepting. So I think it’s primarily to do with socialisation rather than generalising about groups. I don’t think it’s a consensus, I think it’s personal interactions that can cause acceptance and misinterpretation.
I think it definitely helps, as there are lots of people online who are in a similar situation. So if you felt isolated or not accepted, you could find other people a bit further along in their journey who would be there to help you, especially on Instagram and Tik Tok. A lot of people use their platforms to spread awareness and to support others.
LGBT-inclusive teaching ensures that LGBTQ+ children and young people, and children and young people with LGBTQ+ families, see themselves reflected in what they learn. There are lots of resources and materials out there to use when you deliver Social Science issues and themes that will enable you to discuss topics that can be inclusive for LGBTQ+ and will still allow you to cover the specification. Many resources come from professional bodies or charities working in this area.
There are many great online resources, so join the conversation by sharing your ideas and resource links in the comment box below. If you have any queries or comments, you can email me at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also sign up for our email updates for more resources and support.
Michelle teaches GCSE and A Level psychology at a centre in the Midlands. As well as teaching and being a psychology examiner for OCR, Michelle was also on the OCR team who developed the 2017 GCSE 9-1 Psychology qualification. She has also created OCR Research Methods resources to support the A Level specification. After graduating with a BSc with honours in Psychology from Sheffield Hallam University, Michelle started her professional career working in the mental health sector before moving into education. She enjoys reading, baking, going on adventures with her dog and travelling around Europe.
Lucy joined OCR in September 2017 as the subject advisor for sociology and psychology. Before joining OCR she worked as a teacher and as the head of sociology and psychology departments in Peterborough, Yorkshire and Cambridge. In her spare time, she enjoys scuba diving and travel.