UK Doctors Recognize the Importance of LGBTQ Education

If you were anything like me in school, you probably found sex-ed pointless because the teachers taught penis-in-vagina sex exclusively. I tuned out for most of the class because that kind of sex interests me none and I felt that LGBTQ people were being ignored. I was most assuredly not the only person to think this, as doctors in the UK released their responses to a change in the sex-ed curriculum and said that LGBTQ inclusive sex education should be an integral part of learning, according to Gay Times.

The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, or RCPCH released their answers for questions 11-25 which concerned sex education in schools. Questions 1-10 were about the person taking the consultation and were thus not included. The pediatricians agreed that the sex-ed curriculum was age appropriate but not sufficient enough and suggested some changes.

Question 11 is in reference to primary school sex education. It reads:

"Do you agree that the content of Relationships Education as set out in paragraphs 50-57 of the guidance will provide primary school pupils with sufficient knowledge to help them have 
positive relationships?"

To which the doctors responded with that they disagree and listed five bullet points explaining their position. Most notably, their final bullet saying

"There needs to be a clear statement that LGBT people and relationships are part of teaching about healthy relationships in primary school. This can be demonstrated in relation to families – but also it is helpful to children to learn the meaning of terms such as lesbian, gay and bisexual."

I've always felt that it is important to be taught about the existence of LGBTQ people at an early age so as to normalize it so children and adults will less likely to have prejudices. In addition, being taught about LGBTQ identities can help a child who may be gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender that they are just as normal as heterosexual children. 

The other bullet points pertaining to question 11 include the doctors saying that they believe it is important that children are taught that their body is their own and nobody has the right to touch them unless they give consent, the emotional changes they should expect during puberty, and what constitutes abuse and how to report it. Consent is so important and for some reason so many people can't grasp the concept of it so teaching it at an early age can definitely be beneficial. 

The pediatricians also said that schools should focus on relationship education in relation to emotional wellbeing, starting with a whole school approach with teachers leading by example by displaying a positive relationship with parents, students, and coworkers, as they believe that fostering a healthy relationship with other people is incredibly important to one's mental health.

This is especially significant in that mental health is often ignored as LGBTQ people are approximately three times more likely to experience mental health problems than straight people due to prejudice and homophobia. Including mental health education with LGBTQ education may help people become more comfortable with themselves which can lead to a decrease in instances of anxiety and depression.

This report shows that people are definitely willing to include LGBTQ education in school curricula and that is a great sign. I worked for pediatricians for over seven years and they all agreed that LGBTQ identities were valid and should be normalized, so hopefully other American doctors facilitate change in regard to sex-ed in the United States, as it is seriously lacking in substance in some places.

h/t: Gay Times, National Alliance on Mental Illness

High School Student Left with Black Eye, Broken Nose Because People Thought he Was Gay

A Pensacola, Florida high school student was recently attacked and suffered a black eye and a broken nose. The reason? According to Pink News, his classmate thought that he was gay because he's a dancer. Regardless of whether he's gay or not (he doesn't identify as gay), there is no excuse for anyone to assault someone other than self-defense. 

Jaiden Muniz-Walls was the victim of the attack which took place in a classroom by his fellow classmate who has not been identified. Muniz-Walls did not fight back but instead put his arms up to defend himself. He was attacked because of his interest in dancing which made his classmate assume that he's gay. His attacker has been faced with a misdemeanor assault charge, but Jaiden's mother thinks that it is not enough. She wants to make sure that something like this doesn't happen again, as she recognizes that there may be some students in the Pensacola school who are gay and are afraid to admit it because of the fear of being assaulted. 

It's no secret that LGBTQ people (and perceived LGBTQ people) are disproportionately affected by violence, as the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs states that in 2017 there was an 86% increase in hate violence from 2016. In addition to that, Randy Slovacek has written about how schools are still unsafe for LGBTQ people in his post "Survey Shows Progress For LGBTQ High Schoolers Is Slowing Down." Other studies have shown that teachers who identify as LGBT are also subject to hate. It's a sad reality but a reality that we all live in. 

However, this sad reality doesn't have to exist. Educating people on LGBTQ topics is a good place to start, and once that has been taught, perhaps we should teach people to be mindful of other's interests to prevent things like this from happening again. 

h/t: Pink NewsNational Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs

Australian Senators Wish to Preserve Religious "Ethos" in Law Barring LGBTQ Discrimination

I've recently written about the Australian Prime Minister's decision to prohibit religious schools from expelling LGBTQ students and firing teachers based on their sexuality that was created by Australia's Green party. While this is most assuredly a good thing, some people are not happy with it. Most noticeably among the naysayers are Australia's Labor senators who say that this new policy is ultimately negative because they wish for schools to retain their religious "ethos" by allowing expulsion of students and firing of staff based on their sexuality, The Guardian reports.

During a debate on Wednesday, it was revealed that many Labor senators had serious objections to the bill that would protect LGBTQ students and staff members. They object to the bill because while it puts protections in place for LGBTQ individuals, it does not provide assurance that religious schools can retain their ecclesiastical character. 

Because of this objection, the bill may be stalled. The Labor Coalition says that they will create their own bill that would allow for protection for students but not for teachers. So... discrimination is bad against one group but the same exact discrimination is okay for another group? Makes perfect sense.

A labor senator, Jacinta Collins, which is the woman in the picture above, protests the bill as she believes that it's necessary for religious schools "to be run in accordance with their beliefs" and for their parents' religious convictions be honored as their children get an education. She also believes that adding protections for LGBTQ students and staff undermines the beliefs of religious schools and is myopic in regard to factoring in both sides. Collins wants legislation that recognizes that religious schools have policies in place that match their belief system, i.e. not hiring LGBTQ teachers and not allowing discussion of marriage equality.

Simply existing as an LGBTQ shouldn't be a reason for discrimination, but unfortunately it is a reality. Respecting the belief system of religious schools is not incompatible with placing protections for LGBTQ students and staff, as everyone has the right to an education and employment. These protections do not run counter to beliefs in a Christian sense because, as far as I know, the Bible never mentions that LGBTQ people should not be educated or hired. The Labor party will continue to work with parliament to reach an agreement.

h/t: The Guardian

A Maryland Elementary School Is Naming Itself After Gay Civil Rights Leader Bayard Rustin

Bayard Rustin is getting another school named after him.

While there is already a Bayard Rustin High School in Wester Chester, Pennsylvania (his home town), there’s always room for more schools named after the Civil Rights hero.

The Montgomery County Board of Education has recently announced that their new elementary school in Rockville, Maryland will be named after Rustin.

If you don’t know him, Bayard Rustin was a close advisor and friend of Martin Luther King. In fact, it was Rustin who largely organized and designed the 1963 March on Washington.

Rustin was so committed to the cause that he submitted to working behind the scenes in an attempt to prevent his sexuality from derailing the project. This was after Rep. Adam Clayton Powell Jr. threatened to spread the lie that Rustin and King were gay lovers, and King then tried to distance himself from Rustin.

As reported by Bethesda Magazine, the Montgomery County Board of Education voted 6-2 to name their new school after the civil rights leader. They chose Rustin over other notable educators, slaves-turned-religious leaders, abolitionists, and civil rights leaders like Mary McLeod Bethune, Lillian Brown, Josiah Henson, and Emily Catherine Edmonson.

Of course, there are many who oppose naming an elementary school after Rustin and state that it will lead to uncomfortable conversations between parents and their children. That said, others have argued that Rustin was more than just a black, gay man, he was an activist and social leader.

"My husband and I are very passionate about this,” Mark Eckstein Bernardo, father of 6-year-old twins, told NewNowNext. “Not only because we are gay parents, but also because we have a first-grader who will be attending this brand new school this fall.”

Jamie Griffith, a Montgomery Blair High School student also praised the school name while testifying before the board:

"As a queer student, even in a progressive area, I was raised in a society that still attaches shame to my identity,” said Griffth, “A Bayard Rustin Elementary School is not only a well-deserved homage to a civil rights leader and hero, but a way to break stigma and give hope to future students who no longer have to feel trapped in the closet.”

Board member Jill Ortman-Fouse also shared that the school’s new name shows that “no matter what your background is, no matter who you love, you are a part of the [Montgomery County Public School] family.”

Bayard Rustin Elementary will open its doors in Rockville, Maryland this September.