Supporting lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans* and gender-questioning pupils
The government estimates that six per cent of the UK population, around 3.9 million people, identify as lesbian, gay or bisexual. Estimates suggest that one per cent of the UK population, around 650,000 people, identify as trans. This means that schools are likely to have two lesbian, gay or bisexual young people per class group and one trans young person per year group, and many more students may be questioning or feel unsure about their sexual orientation or gender identity.
Being lesbian, gay, bisexual or trans is not a problem or a risk, but young people can find it difficult when other people around them – teachers, doctors, parents/carers and family, friends, youth workers, faith leaders and other young people – respond negatively or don’t provide them with the support they need.
All schools should provide an environment where LGBTQ staff, parents, children and young people are free to be themselves and to experience acceptance from adults and other young people.
Schools have a clear duty under the Equality Act 2010 to ensure that teaching is accessible to all children and young people, including those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans* (LGBT). Inclusive SRE will foster good relations between pupils, tackle all types of prejudice – including homo/trans* phobia – and promote understanding and respect, enabling schools to meet the requirements, and live the intended spirit, of the Equality Act 2010.
Specific support for pupils identifying as gender questioning or trans* gender
Gender dysphoria is a condition where a person experiences discomfort or distress because there’s a mismatch between their biological sex and gender identity. It is sometimes known as gender identity disorder (GID), gender incongruence or transgenderism. For further advice and signposting, see the NHS Choices website.
To find information about local and national services for trans* people contact NHS Direct on 0845 46 47.
Living My Life – information booklet for people identifying as trans*.
GIRES – the Gender Identity and Research Education Society have developed an on-line training module Caring for gender variant young people suitable for people working in education. The course is free, is easily accessible online and takes around 45 minutes to complete. It includes an optional test and provides a certificate of completion that enables users to earn CPD points.
The following publications are essential reading for schools supporting children and young people who may identify as trans*.
In partnership with Cornwall Council, the Intercom Trust has produced Schools Transgender Guidance. This guidance informs schools and colleges so that they can support, inform, protect and enable pupils and students questioning their gender identity to achieve their full potential whilst in education.
Brighton and Hove have produced a Trans Inclusion Toolkit which provides information and guidance to schools and colleges on how to more effectively support trans* and gender questioning pupils and students and prevent trans*phobia.
Curriculum (Universal provision through planned PSHE)
Children and young people should be taught, through a planned and developmental programme of PSHE, including Relationships and Sex Education, about what makes them unique and special, about different families, the characteristics of healthy/unhealthy relationships, identity, challenging stereotypes and gender expectations. All learning should be inclusive of the experiences and needs of LGBTQ pupils.
The resource lists below will provide support for planning an appropriate curriculum that meets the needs of all pupils.
- The Sex Education Forum factsheet Sexual orientation, sexual identities and homophobia in schools supports schools to challenge homophobia and develop PSHE and SRE policy and practice which addresses sexual identities and is relevant to all children and young people.
- Advice from Brook around the difference between ‘sex’ and ‘gender’ written for young people under the age of 25.
- Amnesty International have developed a resource pack which contains teaching activities for children and young people from key stage 1 onwards relating to the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people.
- Challenging homophobia in primary schools provides lesson plans that could be used across a primary school designed to develop emotional literacy, celebrate difference and diversity and challenge homophobia. Activities are planned around stories, many of which will be familiar to children and teachers.
- The Crown Prosecution Service, National Union of Teachers and many community groups have worked together to produce a range of resources which will support schools with tackling hate crime, including homo, bi and trans phobia. The resources are designed to increase pupils’ understanding of hate crime and prejudice and enable them to explore ways of challenging it.
* – Trans* is an umbrella term that refers to all of the identities within the gender identity spectrum
Updates and changes
These pages are updated regularly and should be used as the main source of information. Printed versions should be used with care as they can become out of date.