To mark 18 years since Section 28 was repealed, Just Like Us has released a report on teachers’ attitudes to LGBTQ+ inclusive education. A total of 17% of 6,179 primary and secondary school teachers said they feel uncomfortable discussing LGBTQ+ topics with students despite 2020 government guidance to include LGBTQ+ teaching in every school’s curriculum.
Primary school teachers were most likely (19%) to feel uncomfortable discussing LGBTQ+ topics, despite OFSTED requiring primary schools to teach children about LGBTQ+ families. On the other hand, only 29% of all teachers said that they felt “completely comfortable” talking about LGBTQ+ topics in the classroom, with 25% of primary school teachers expressing this feeling.
Introduced under Margaret Thatcher’s government, Section 28 prohibited local authorities, including schools, from discussing any topics that were considered to ‘promote homosexuality’. Although it was repealed in 2003, chief executive of Just Like Us, Dominic Arnall, said: “Clearly things have not changed as much as we like to think and, as a result, growing up LGBTQ+ is still unacceptably tough.”
He continued: “Having silence around LGBTQ+ topics only results in shame, stigma and students feeling that they don’t belong in school…It is essential the government provide support and clear guidance for schools on supporting LGBTQ+ young people.”